Public Power Corporation (PPC) will hire 2,000 unemployed Greeks on two-year contracts as part of an agreement between the company and the Employment and Social Security Ministry, it was announced yesterday. Under the agreement, the workers will continue to collect unemployment benefits that will be paid through the power company in a program that will start on September 1. «I consider this a very important development… for the conversion of the unemployment benefit to an employment benefit,» Employment and Social Security Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told reporters. PPC, which employed some 24,600 people in 2007, will pitch in and pay the social security contributions of the unemployed people it hires. The electricity company will train the new staff members so that at «some point later, they can find work at PPC or in other enterprises,»said PPC CEO Takis Athanasopoulos. Unemployment in Greece has been continually rising as the economy slows to a halt. Joblessness shot up to 9.4 percent in April, its biggest annual jump on record, mainly due to a slowdown in construction and tourism. Labor market conditions have been the weakest for women and people in the 15 to 24 age group.