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Greece unemployment hits new record despite tourism boom

Joblessness in debt-stricken Greece has reached a new record since the national statistics office started collecting comparable data. The increase came despite higher employment in tourism.

Greece's jobless rate soared to 27.6 percent in May, the national statistics office, Elstat, reported Thursday, reflecting the eurozone nation's problems with austerity measures imposed in return for its international bailout.

Unemployment rose from an upwardly revised 27 percent in April and was more than twice the average rate in the euro area, which stood at 12.1 percent in June.

Official data showed that those aged between 15 and 24 remained the hardest hit as the jobless rate for this age group registered 64.9 percent, with Greece being in its sixth straight year of recession.

Not cutting the corner yet

Record joblessness has proven to be a nightmare for the country's two-party coalition government as it struggles to hit fiscal targets and looks desperate to show that there's light at the end of the tunnel after a long period of unpopular tax hikes and cuts to wages and pensions.

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Unemployment increased despite a marked boom in tourism accounting for about 17 percent of Greece's economic output. Revenues were seen rising by 10 percent in 2013, with a total of 17 million visitors expected in the course of this year.

"Increased employment in tourism cannot offset the restructuring in many other sectors and continuing weak demand," National Bank economist Nikos Magginas commented.

A labor market turnaround will take a lot more time even if recovery sets in next year as authorities project. Greece's central bank says joblessness will peak at 28 percent before it starts to decline in 2015.

hg/dr   (dpa, Reuters)

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