Photo Caption: Greece’s two largest labor unions strike in front of Greece’s Parliament building to protest austerity measures.
Unemployment in Greece rose to a record 27 percent in November as a result of the financial crisis and austerity measures that will leave, according to one survey, nearly a third of the population in poverty by the end of the year.
The Statistics Agency said unemployment increased from a rate of 26.6 percent in October and 20.8 percent in November the previous year. More than 30,000 people lost their job in November, the agency said, with the jobless rate accelerating from earlier in the year.
Worst affected are the young, with 61.7 percent of those in the 15-24 age group without a job.
Greece is mired in the sixth year of a recession, and has been relying for nearly three years on international rescue loans to keep it afloat. In return for the bailout, the government has imposed major spending cuts and tax hikes which have hammered the economy, causing an increase in poverty and forcing thousands of businesses to close.
New tax hikes that went into effect this month have added further pressure on the shrinking workforce: 3.6 million Greeks remain employed, but 3.3 million are registered as inactive and 1.35 million are unemployed, according to the November figures.
A study by Greece’s largest labor union, GSEE, released this week projected that 3.9 million out of Greece’s total population of nearly 11 million will be officially living in poverty by the end of the year, compared with 3.1 million in 2011. The poverty line in Greece is set at a personal income of less than €7,200 ($9,700) per year.
Ioannis Kouzis, associate professor at Panteion University’s social policy department and adviser to GSEE, said the union’s research suggested the jobless rate would hit 30 percent later this year.
“There are 470,000 households without anyone working,” Kouzis told private Skai television.
“When the (austerity) measures started, unemployment was at 9 percent. Since then, incomes have been crushed and the official unemployment rate has reached 27 percent … So the notion that lower salaries will boost employment has proved to be totally false.”
Unions have called a general strike for Feb. 20, protesting the new tax hikes and a government decision to ax collective wage agreements in the public sector as part of an overhaul in pay scales for state-paid employees.
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