ECONOMY

Unemployment numbers on the rise

Greece’s unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent in March, from 9.1 percent in February, and looks set to continue moving higher over the next few months as the economy grinds to a halt. Unemployment had eased to 9.1 percent in February from 9.4 percent in January and was 9.0 percent in the same month a year earlier. Data published yesterday by the National Statistical Service (NSS) showed there were 457,024 officially unemployed people in March, with joblessness affecting women more than men – 12.9 percent compared to 6.6 percent for the male population. For the 15-24 age group, it was a much higher 24.5 percent. The jobless rate in the 16 countries sharing the euro rose to 8.9 percent in March, according to Eurostat. It worsened further to 9.2 percent in April. Economists said weakening domestic demand and worsened external conditions are likely to put more upward pressure on the jobless rate in the following months. Greece’s economy, which makes up about 2.5 percent of the eurozone total, has been hit by the global downturn and the European Commission forecasts it will slide into its first recession since 1993 this year, with gross domestic product (GDP) contracting 0.9 percent. In the first quarter of the year, GDP expanded at an annual pace of 0.30 percent but contracted by 1.2 percent from the previous quarter.