Jobless rate seen above 17 percent

Greece’s unemployment rate is expected to shoot up to 17.3 percent in 2010, from 8.6 percent currently, according to the country’s largest union group, the General Confederation of Greek Workers, known by its Greek acronym GSEE. GSEE, which represents some 2 million private sector workers, yesterday presented a study put together by its Labor Institute INE, which estimates that the jobless rate will rise to 15 percent by the end of the year. Savas Robolis, scientific director of GSEE’s Labor Institute, told reporters that unemployment is not seen returning to pre-crisis levels until 2015, without giving any further details. A number of temporary government-run programs that provide employment to mainly young people will end during 2009, pushing up the jobless rate this year by at least two percentage points, according to the General Confederation of Greek Workers. Data from the National Statistical Service (NSS) showed a hike in the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent in June, climbing 1.3 percentage points compared to the same month a year earlier. The number of people officially unemployed went up by 67,729 from June last year to 427,707 out of the country’s total 4.57 million people in the work force. Policies adopted by the conservative government to provide the economy with a boost, such as providing banks with liquidity and increasing the tax burden on workers, will prolong the recession and delay a recovery until after 2011, GSEE said. Turning to personal incomes, the study found large imbalances among different social groups in Greece. The country’s richest 20 percent earn about six times more than the country’s poorest 20 percent, according to the study, which said that only in Romania, Portugal and Latvia are there larger income inequalities than in Greece. The study estimated that there is no turnaround expected in income inequality anytime soon due to the economic crisis.