Unemployment hits young people hard

BRUSSELS – The financial crisis has hit young workers particularly hard, with one in four people under 25 years old in Greece without a job, according to data released yesterday by Eurostat. Across the European Union, there were as many as 5 million unemployed young people in the 15-24 age group in the first quarter of the year, or 18.3 percent, with Greece near the top of the jobless rate list. The average unemployment figure for the EU stood at 8.2 percent in the same period. Jobless young people increased by 3.7 percent on a yearly basis, against a rate of 1.5 percent on average in the bloc. Unemployment for people under 25 rose in all EU states except for Bulgaria. Greece’s 24.2 percent rate was only behind Spain’s (33.6 percent), Latvia’s (28.2 percent) and Italy’s (24.9 percent). In this country, there were 77,000 unemployed young people in early 2008, a rate of 22.2 percent, but their number rose by about 9,000 within a year. Although in the EU joblessness for young people affects mostly men, in Greece it is women who are worst off, as their rate of unemployment is almost double that of the EU average. The young men’s percentage is close to the European average. In general, unemployment in May in the EU reached its highest level since May 1999 and the highest percentage since June 2005 in the entire bloc.