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article imageAlmost two thirds of Greek youth are unemployed

By Ken Hanly     Aug 12, 2013 in Politics
Athens - Unemployment in general in Greece rose to a new high in May with a rate of 27.6 percent, up slightly from 27 percent in April and considerably higher than the 23.8 percent a year ago in May.
The most frightening figure from the Hellenic Statistics Authority was the rate among young people aged 15 to 24, at an astonishing 64.9 percent. There are now almost 1.4 million out of work in Greece but there are also 3.3 million more who are considered economically inactive. Unemployment in Greece in June was more than twice the average 12.1 percent recorded in June in the Eurozone. Greece has been depending upon loans from the Troika (European Commission, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank) for some time as its debt has reached crisis proportions.
To obtain loans and avoid bankruptcy, Greece has been forced to accept severe austerity measures dictated by the Troika. The situation has caused considerable political turmoil as well as protests and strikes against the austerity measures. Spain's unemployment is not much better than that of Greece, peaking at 27.2 percent in the first three months of 2013.
While the austerity measures in Greece may please investors, the tax hikes, pension cuts, downsizing of the public service and selling off of assets, has resulted in economic contraction for the sixth year now. The loans are delivered in installments and before each installment is delivered inspectors investigate to see if the terms of the loan are being met. The latest requirement, just as unemployment reaches a record high, is the firing of thousands of civil servants.
The situation is a nightmare for the governing coalition government as it tries to convince a skeptical population that there is light at the end of the tunnel. So far there has been nothing but more cuts to pensions and wages combined with layoffs and tax hikes. While authorities predict that there will be a turnaround next year, the central bank nevertheless predicts that unemployment will peak at 28 percent and will not start to decline until 2015. The Greek government wants to tap European Union regional development funds to help promote job programs that will help boost employment.
One bright spot is tourism, which accounts for almost 17 per cent of the Greek economy. A record 17 million visitors are expected to visit this year and revenues to rise 10 per cent. However, this will not be enough to offset the negative effects of the austerity measures according to Nikos Magginas at the National Bank.
More about Greece, greek debt crisis, unemployment in Greece
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