Jobless rate climbs to record high

Greece’s unemployment rate hit a record high of 13.5 percent in October, as nearly 193,000 workers joined the jobless queue over the last 12 months, according to data made public yesterday. The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reported that unemployment rose to 13.5 percent from 9.8 percent in the same month a year earlier. The figure stood at 12.6 percent in September. Economists said the figure is a historic high for the monthly reading since 2004, when the data was first compiled. The number of people employed also fell further, to 4.36 million in October from 4.37 million a month earlier, the statistical service said. Young people remain the age group hit hardest by Greece’s deepening recession. The data showed 34.6 percent of people aged between 15 and 24 were without a job in October, up from 27.5 percent a year earlier. Women also continued to see fewer job opportunities than men. The number of unemployed women rose to 17.6 percent in October, up from 13.7 percent a year earlier. By region, the highest unemployment rate was in western Macedonia, where joblessness stood at 17.2 percent in October. In the Attica region, unemployment was 14.4 percent in October, up from 12.6 percent in September. No improvement in the labor market is expected for several quarters, according to economists, who point out that further increases in jobless numbers are soon expected. Greece’s jobless rate was the fourth highest in the 16-member eurozone in October after Spain, Slovakia and Ireland, and 3.4 percentage points higher than the bloc’s average. The government expects unemployment to average out at 14.6 percent this year, as the economy goes through its third consecutive year of recession. Greece’s international lenders, namely the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, have forecast that Greek unemployment will peak at 15.2 percent in 2012.