Greek unemployment rises above 25 pc – the highest rate since 2004

Greece’s unemployment rate climbed to more than a quarter of the workforce in July, extending its record high as the country’s five-year recession deepened. The jobless rate rose to 25.1 percent from a revised 24.8 percent in June, the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Authority said in an statement from yesterday, informs. That’s the highest since the agency began publishing monthly data in 2004. Greece’s recession and deepening labor slump has been exacerbated by austerity measures imposed to trim a budget deficit that was more than five times the euro-area limit in 2009. The eurozone debt crisis is again in focus at International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo. IMF chief Lagarde called for swifter problem-resolution, while also bidding for patience with Greece, Wall Street Journal informs. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition government is hashing out a 13.5 billion-euro (USD 17.4 billion) package of budget cuts for 2013 and 2014 needed to keep rescue loans from the euro area and the International Monetary Fund flowing. The euro was little changed at USD1.2885 at 1:24 p.m. in Athens. The single currency has gained 5.8 percent against the dollar since Aug. 2, when the European Central Bank first announced plans to purchase government bonds of distressed nations along with Europe’s rescue fund. Greece’s unexpected budget blowout in 2009 triggered a financial crisis that has stunted the region’s economy and threatened a currency seen by its founders as permanent. Spain is considering asking for help and Cyprus is in talks for a lifeline, following Ireland, Portugal and Spanish lenders. Central Athens was the scene of protests earlier this week when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Greek capital as thousands of citizens vented frustration over her perceived role in the country’s economic misery. Some 7,000 police were deployed in the capital, with Merkel’s destinations cordoned off. Police said they detained 217 people and arrested 24. European leaders are struggling to restore investor confidence as austerity measures across the 17-member currency region threaten to deepen an economic slump. At least five euro- member states are already in recession and Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is also cooling. The IMF earlier this week cut its euro-area economic forecasts for this year and next, saying a further escalation of the region’s turmoil remains “a major downside risk.”

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