ECONOMY

Jobless rate jumps at end of 09

Greece’s unemployment rate soared to 10.3 percent at the end of the fourth quarter, the highest since 2005 and the largest jump in 11 years, according to the National Statistics Service (NSS). Unemployment had stood at 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter of the previous year, NSS said. This quarter’s rate is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2004, when unemployment stood at 10.4 percent. The average jobless rate in the 16 countries using the euro was steady at 9.9 percent in January. The number of unemployed people in Greece was estimated at about 514,000 people, 31 percent higher than a year earlier. Economists estimate the country’s jobless figures to keep rising for another year on the condition that economic activity will bottom out in the third quarter of the 2010. Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos said yesterday he expects Greece’s unemployment rate to rise to 12 percent at the end of March.