Jobless rate jumps higher in July

Greece’s unemployment rate shot up to 9.6 percent in July, the highest in more than three years, resulting in some 129,000 more people joining the ranks of the jobless since the same period a year earlier, according to data released yesterday. The National Statistical Service (NSS) said that another 128,772 people pushed the total number of unemployed in Greece up to 476,707 in July. The country’s total work force numbers 4.49 million people. Weakness in the construction and tourism industries is seen as having raised the jobless rate from 7 percent last year, according to NSS officials. Women and young Greeks are paying a higher price in the labor market for the slowing economy, with 13.8 percent of women looking for work versus 6.6 percent of men. The jobless rate among 15- to 24-year-olds stood at 23.9 percent, while the corresponding figure for those aged between 25 and 34 was 12.6 percent. The rising trend mirrors an increase in jobless numbers across the 16-nation eurozone. Unemployment in countries that share the euro currency rose to 9.5 percent in July, the highest reading since May 1999, despite signs of economic recovery emerging. The International Monetary Fund has forecast Greece’s unemployment rate as rising to 10.5 percent in 2010 from an average of 9.5 percent this year. Private sector union umbrella GSEE placed the «real» jobless rate in July at above 15 percent, while Synaspismos, the largest group in the SYRIZA political party, said state efforts to lower the unemployment rate by fiddling with NSS numbers can no longer hide the dramatic increase in joblessness. A measure announced by the newly elected government to partially fund employment positions for young unemployed workers for up to four years will only result in «a recycling of the unemployment rate,» as older employees will be sacked for cheaper substitutes, added Synaspismos in a statement.