Greek unemployment hit new record in May of 27.6 percent
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's jobless rate hit a new record high of 27.6 percent in May, official national data showed on Thursday as the country staggers under austerity linked to its international bailout.
Record joblessness is a nightmare for Greece's two-party coalition government as it scrambles to hit fiscal targets and show there is light at the end of the tunnel after years of unpopular tax rises and cuts to wages and pensions.
Unemployment rose to 27.6 percent from an upwardly revised 27.0 percent reading in April, according to data from statistics service ELSTAT and was more than twice the average rate in the euro zone which stood at 12.1 percent in June.
The latest reading was the highest since ELSTAT began publishing monthly jobless data in 2006.
Greece and Spain have been hit with similar levels of sky-high unemployment, with latest Eurostat data showing seasonally adjusted unemployment in June at 26.9 percent for Greece and 26.3 percent in Spain.
Spain itself does not publish monthly jobless figures directly comparable to Greece's own data, but Madrid's quarterly data shows its rate peaked at 27.2 percent in the first three months of this year.
"Increased employment in tourism cannot offset the restructuring in many sectors of the economy and continuing weak demand," said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank.
However, he said improving exports and a strong tourism season would help to contain the further rise in joblessness expected this year.
Tourism accounts for about 17 percent of Greece's economic output and one in five jobs. Revenues are seen rising 10 percent in 2013, to 11 billion euros, on the back of an expected record 17 million visitors. Continued...