Greece’s unemployment rate hit a new record in July with one in four now out of work, like in Spain, as a crippling recession and austerity measures continued to take a toll on the labour market.
Unemployment rose for a 35th consecutive month to 25.1 per cent in July, more than double the euro zone average and up from a revised 24.8 per cent in June, Greece’s statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday.
The jobless rate has more than tripled since the debt-laden country’s five-year recession began in 2008 and now stands at 54 per cent for those aged between 15 and 24 years, compared with 22 per cent in July 2008.
A record 1.26 million Greeks were without work in July, up 43 per cent from the same month last year.
The slump in the Greek economy is expected to accelerate later this year if the government implements further budget cuts of almost €12-billion ($15.5-billion U.S.) over the next two years as a pre-condition for more funds under its EU/IMF bailout.
The IMF expects unemployment to climb to an average 25.4 per cent in 2013.
The Greek jobless rate is now at a par with fellow euro zone sufferer Spain, whose unemployment rate stood at 25 per cent in July and had been the highest in the euro zone, according to Eurostat figures. It is more than double the euro zone average unemployment rate of 11.4 per cent in July.
Budget cuts imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund as a condition for saving debt-laden Greece from a chaotic default have aggravated a wave of corporate closings and bankruptcies.
Credit to companies has been shrinking as the country’s banks depend on the European Central Bank for liquidity and cannot fund firms.
Greece’s economy is estimated to have shrunk by about a fifth since then. More than 600,000 jobs, more than one in 10, have been shed in the process.