Unemployment hits new record high in devastated Greece

Tim Wallace
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YOUTH unemployment hit a new record high in Greece in March, while France also saw a surprise jump in joblessness.

Well over half of Greece’s under-25s are now unemployed, according to official agency Elstat – 52.8 per cent were jobless in March, up from 42 per cent in March 2011 and more than double the 25 per cent in March 2009.

Total unemployment hit a new record of 21.9 per cent in the month, up from 21.4 per cent in February and 15.7 per cent in March 2011.

Economists warned that may get worse as the recession continues.

“Unemployment is usually a lagging indicator of broader economic activity,” said Platon Monokroussos from EFG Eurobank.

“It appears the jobless rate has not yet peaked, although some support may be provided during the summer months from the tourism sector.”

Meanwhile France saw a surprise rise in joblessness to 10 per cent in the first quarter – up from 9.8 per cent at the end of 2011 to a euro-era high.

Labour minister Michel Sapin said the Socialist government will try to stop unemployment rising further by making it more expensive for firms to fire workers, a move attacked by some economists. “The main idea is to make layoffs so expensive for companies that it’s not worth it,” Sapin said in an interview with France Info radio.