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Greek unemployment hits record

Reported by AAP
Friday, February 15, 2013
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Unemployment in Greece rose to a record 27 per cent in November as separate surveys showed the country remains stuck in recession and predicted nearly a third of the population will be in poverty by the end of the year.

The Statistics Agency said unemployment increased from a rate of 26.6 per cent in October and 20.8 per cent in November the previous year. More than 30,000 people lost their job in November, the agency said, with the jobless rate accelerating from earlier in the year.

Worst affected are the young, with 61.7 per cent of those in the 15-24 age group without a job.

Greece is mired in the sixth year of a recession, and has been relying for nearly three years on international rescue loans to keep it afloat.

In return for the bailout, the government has imposed major spending cuts and tax hikes that have hammered the economy, causing an increase in poverty and forcing thousands of businesses to close.

The economy contracted a further 6.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from the previous year, the statistics agency said. That followed annual contractions of 6.7, 6.4 and 6.7 per cent in the previous three quarters of 2012.

New tax hikes that went into effect this month have added further pressure on the shrinking workforce: 3.6 million Greeks remain employed, but 3.3 million are registered as inactive and 1.35 million are unemployed, according to the November figures.

A study by Greece's largest trade union, GSEE, released this week projected that 3.9 million out of Greece's total population of nearly 11 million will be officially living in poverty by the end of the year, compared with 3.1 million in 2011. The poverty line in Greece is set at a personal income of less than 7,200 euros ($A9,433) per year.

Several hundred pensioners marched to the Labour Ministry in heavy rain on Thursday to protest the new tax increases.

"We are not just talking about some problems. They are taking our lives away," said Dimos Koumbouris, leader of Greece's main pensioners association.

"We can't pay our electricity bills, or the emergency taxes. We haven't enough for our medicines, and it's putting our lives in danger."

03/09/2014 14:35Sydney, Australia. 3 September,2014
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