Jobless queues stretch further

Greece’s unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent in June, climbing 1.3 percentage points compared to the same month a year earlier, data from the National Statistical Service (NSS) showed yesterday as union groups accuse the government of underestimating jobless numbers. The NSS said the number of people officially unemployed went up by 67,729 from June last year to 427,707. The country’s work force in June totaled 4.57 million people. Economists expect Greece’s unemployment rate to rise by one percentage point by the end of the year, as the economy slows under the weight of the global crisis. Store owners, however, are painting a more dismal picture of the labor market. The General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE), an employer group representing small to medium-sized businesses, said last month about 100,000 jobs are at risk of being lost by the end of the year. The jobless rate in the 16 countries sharing the euro currency stood at 9.4 percent in June, according to Eurostat, and worsened further to 9.5 percent in July. Jobless rates were higher in northern parts of Greece. In eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the unemployment rate rose to 11.6 percent in June, from 10 percent last year, NSS data showed. In Epirus, 11.5 percent of the population was looking for work, up from 10.2 percent a year earlier. The labor market remained difficult for younger Greeks. The jobless rate in the 15-24 age group rose to 22.9 percent from 22.3 percent in June 2008. Responding to the announcement yesterday, the country’s largest union group GSEE said the unemployment rate underestimates jobless figures by about half. «Stores shutting down, [the introduction of] four-day working weeks and sackings are daily events without there being any new full-time and permanent positions created,» the union group said in a statement.