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Things go from bad to worse in Greece

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The bellwether of the European Union's economic crisis, the nation of Greece has wracked up momentous debt and has seen many of its population - particularly young people, go jobless. Recent statistics say that the situation here has gone from bad - to worse.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Greece's jobless rate has almost tripled since the country's debt crisis emerged in 2009.

According to Greece's statistics service, Elstat, unemployment in January stood at 27.2 percent, up from a revised 25.7 percent in December. Youth unemployment edged further towards the 60 percent mark, rising to 59.3 percent in January which was up from 51 percent in the same month in 2012.

Joblessness has grown steadily higher in Greece as tax rises and spending cuts demanded by creditors took their toll. The economy is expected to shrink 4.5 percent this year.

"The first quarter will remain tough amid the deep recession, despite an improvement in the previous two months due to seasonal hirings," Nikos Magginas, an economist at commercial Greek lender National Bank said.

Speaking in February, Finance minister Yannis Stournaras says that pre-bookings for the tourism season in Greece were "very good" and a finance ministry official indicated earlier this week that tourism is expected to offset the effect of Cyprus' banking crisis.

Data earlier this month showed that unemployment across the eurozone as a whole hit a record 12 percent in February. Statistics office Eurostat estimated that 19 million people in the eurozone were unemployed in February, a 33,000 rise on the previous month.

Highest increases in unemployment rates were witnessed in Greece and Spain. Austria, Germany and the Netherlands were among those countries with the lowest rates.

Some politicians have warned that cost-cutting measures which raise unemployment could result in the rise of populist governments after three years of austerity policies to tackle the economic crisis in the European Union.

"Prolonging austerity today risks not achieving a reduction in deficits but the certainty of making governments unpopular so that populists will swallow them whole when the time comes," French President Francois Hollande said last month.

EU jobs commissioner Laszlo Andor has described the "unacceptably high" levels of unemployment as a "tragedy for Europe."

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