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article imageGreek unemployment below 20% for first time since 2011

By AFP     Aug 9, 2018 in World

Greece's unemployment rate, the highest in the European Union, has edged below 20 percent for the first time in seven years, statistics bureau Elstat reported Thursday.

The rate came in at 19.5 percent, down from 21.7 percent the same month a year earlier.

Labour minister Efi Achtsioglou called the news -- which came days after Greece received a final 15-billion-euro payment from its eight-year bailout programme -- "encouraging".

Efforts to rekindle economic growth and create jobs, especially for young people, had paid off, as had the fight against undeclared work, she said.

But Greece still has by far the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.

The country's youth is hardest hit, with nearly 40 percent of young people between 15 and 24 out of work.

One in every four women doesn't have a job.

Greece's public finances spun out of control in 2010, sparking three international bailouts and threatening the country's membership of the euro single currency.

Athens had to bow to harsh terms imposed by its creditors, with austerity measures and reforms striking at the heart of Greece's bloated public sector.

The cutbacks in turn led to layoffs and until recently economic growth has been too anaemic to make a meaningful dent in unemployment statistics.

Unemployment across the eurozone currently stands at its lowest level in nine years at 8.5 percent on average.

Spain has the area's second-largest jobless rate after Greece, at 15.8 percent.

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