The government said yesterday that the start of the tourism season had helped lower the country’s unemployment rate to 8.4 percent in April from 9.5 percent in March, amid accusations from political opponents of using creative accounting to impress. The National Statistics Service (NSS) said the jobless rate eased to 8.4 percent in April from 9.0 percent in the same period a year earlier. «Greece’s tourism season begins in spring, so more people are hired during this period than in winter,» the NSS said. «Unemployment fell across the eurozone, and Greece is following these European trends,» it added. Joblessness continued to affect women more than men. In April, female unemployment was 13.3 percent compared with 5.0 percent for men. Hardest hit were the young, with unemployment among the 15-24 age group at 21.2 percent. PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou branded Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis an «alchemist,» accusing him of transforming unemployment data into whatever suits him. «The Greek people fully understand the methods of the alchemist, of Mr Alogoskoufis,» said Efthymiou. Despite years of strong economic growth in Greece, the country’s unemployment figures have remained stubbornly high due to what economists refer to as structural rigidities in the market. The problems include inflexible labor laws, mainly with regard to the country’s large state organizations, and a lack of alignment between university graduates and labor market demand.