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Business

Greek unemployment hits record as austerity bites deeper

Official unemployment in Greece spiked 1.0 percent in June as the slump in the debt-laden eurozone country has accelerated. Although one in four Greeks is without work, new austerity is in the pipeline.

The jobless rate in Greece jumped to 24.4 percent in June, according to data released by the country's statistics service on Thursday, as an additional 50,000 people lost their jobs in that month.

The rise by almost a full percentage point compared with the previous month of May means that more than 1.2 million Greeks were unemployed - close to a quarter of the nation's entire workforce, and 358,000 more than in June 2011.

ELSTAT's figures show that young people 15 to 24 are hardest hit by unemployment, as the jobless rate in this age group soared to 55 percent in June 2012, compared with just 20 percent in 2008 - the year when the recession began in Greece.

Government budget cuts, demanded by Greece's international lenders in exchange for bailout funding, have caused a wave of corporate bankruptcies, slashing more than 600,000 jobs and causing the economy to shrink by 20 percent since 2008.

The government, however, is preparing new budget cuts worth 11.6 billion euros ($14.6 billion) for this year, in efforts to unlock a loan installment of 31.5 billion euros from the rescue fund.

Greek labor unions warned Thursday that unemployment would exceed 30 percent, if the government imposed the new cutbacks.

uhe/mkg (Reuters, AFP)