ECONOMY

Jobless rate rises to 11.6 pct in June

Greece’s unemployment rate rose to 11.6 percent in June from 8.6 percent in the same month a year earlier, as austerity policies aimed at slashing the budget deficit led to job cuts, figures from the Hellenic Statistics Authority (ELSTAT) showed yesterday. Unemployment dropped month-on-month from 12 percent in May, as the tourism season kicked in and companies hired temporary workers. Greek jobless figures are not adjusted for seasonal factors. A total of 582,364 people were out of work in June, about 143,000 more than in June 2009. Greece’s total work force numbers 4.42 million people. Employment is expected to suffer as the Greek economy goes through its deepest recession in almost 40 years, partly due to draconian austerity measures to shore up the country’s finances and avoid a debt default, in exchange for a 110-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Greece’s jobless rate was the fourth highest in the 16-member eurozone after Spain, Slovakia and Ireland and 1.6 percentage points above the bloc’s average. The EU and the IMF expect unemployment to rise to nearly 15 percent next year, with the economy suffering its third consecutive year of contraction. The jobless rate was 29.8 percent among those between ages 15 and 24, the worst-affected age group, followed by 16.2 percent for those between the ages of 25 and 34, the authority said. Seven in 10 young Greeks would leave the country if they could, as austerity measures crimp incomes and reduce career prospects, according to a survey published late last month. Unemployment was highest in the northern Greek regions of West and East Macedonia and Thrace that border the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The jobless rate in Athens and the surrounding area, the most populous region in the country, advanced to 11.4 percent from 8.3 percent a year earlier, according to ELSTAT data.