Greek unemployment hits record amid political turmoil

May 10, 2012, Thursday/ 12:48:00/ REUTERS

Greece's jobless rate hit a new record in February, underscoring the pain austerity policies required by the EU and IMF have inflicted on the debt-laden country which is struggling to form a government.    

More than one in five Greeks and one in two youths are out of a job, statistics service ELSTAT data showed on Thursday. The unemployment rate hit 21.7 percent from a revised 21.3 percent in January. In the 15-24 age group, joblessness stood at a record 54 percent.     

Budget cuts imposed since 2010 under the terms of the country's international bailout to save Greece from a chaotic default have caused a wave of corporate closures and bankruptcies.     

This has fuelled anger with established, pro-bailout political parties, which suffered a stinging defeat in May 6 elections that created a hung parliament in which half the seats went to anti-bailout groups.     

Nearly 1.1 million people were without a job, 42 percent more than in the same month last year, the data showed. The number of those in work declined by 8 percent over the same period to a record low 3.87 million.     

Joblessness was the highest in the country's biggest urban centres, particularly Athens, where the anti-bailout Left Coalition party (SYRIZA) fared particularly well in the elections, becoming the biggest party.     

Greece's economy is estimated to shrink by about 20 percent in 2008-2012, marking the country's deepest and longest post-war recession. More than 500,000 jobs, about in 10, have been destroyed in the process.          

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