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One in four Greeks are unemployed

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 8th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Greek unemployment hit a new record of 25.4 percent. That figure represents studies conducted in August as five years of recession and government spending cuts have continued onward. Young people, in particular those who are seeking work for the first time, were among the hardest hit.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Greek statistics office ELSTAT said the seasonally-adjusted jobless number rose to 1.27 million in August, which was up 352,000 from the same month a year earlier. In July 2012, jobless figures were set at 24.8 percent.

Nearly six in 10 workers under the age of 24 are now without a job and a third of workers aged 25-34 are unemployed, ELSTAT said.

These statistics paint a grim graph of the social cost of a recession that has cut the size of the Greek economy by about 20 percent since 2008. The Greek government has desperately tried to rein in its soaring budget deficit, projected to hit 190 percent of gross domestic product in 2013.

Greece has already received two financial bailouts from international creditors. The payments of funds under the second program were suspended earlier this year after Athens fell behind its fiscal targets.

The Greek parliament approved a further round of labor market reforms and spending cuts this week in the face of angry protests by tens of thousands of Greeks, furious at years of belt-tightening that have slashed the living standards for many of Greece's population of 10 million.

It's estimated that nearly three in 10 people are now materially deprived in one way or another, up by nearly 50 percent since before the crisis hit.

A revised 2013 budget, coupled with new austerity measures both require parliamentary support if Greece is to stand any chance of receiving the next 31.5 billion Euros in bailout funds from the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The budget will be debated this weekend. Eurozone finance ministers could agree as early as next week to give Greece two more years to meet its fiscal targets, paving the way for release of the bailout money, which would avert the nation's insolvency. Most agree that Greece's exit from the eurozone would be catastrophic, with a domino effect for other likewise financially ailing nations such as Spain and Ireland. 

Critics of the government argue that the austerity measures are pulling Greece into a downward spiral of economic contraction and impoverishment. The economy is forecast to contract by 4.5 percent in 2013, a sixth straight year of recession.

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