Greek Jobless Rate New Record 27%

There are 1.35 million people in Greece's unemployment lines.
There are 1.35 million people in Greece’s unemployment lines.

Greece’s jobless rate hit a new record 27 percent in November, 2012 – some 61.7 percent for those under 25 – as statistics showed the economy shrank by 6 percent in the last quarter of the year, a double dose of bad news for the government.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said that the country’s unemployment rate was more than double the Eurozone’s average rate of 11.7 percent in November. Some 323,808 Greeks lost their jobs between November 2011 and November 2012, reflecting a jump in the rate of 6.2 percent. Unemployment is now roughly double what it was at the beginning of 2010.

There are more than 1,350,181 unemployed and the ranks rise by 887 a day, all in the private sector as the government still has not moved to reduce the hugely redundant public workforce despite three years of promises to do so.

There as a small drop in the number of inactive people, who reached 3,339,982, slightly higher than the number of employed, which stood at 3,642,102 in November. The rate of unemployed for those 25-34 is now 36.2 percent. The gloomy numbers don’t include those for whom benefits have run out, suggesting there are as many as two million people in Greece without work.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has vowed to do something to increase employment that some analysts said could surpass an overall rate of 30 percent, but hasn’t done anything yet. If the government begins to implement layoffs in the public sector, the rate could jump rapidly.

Needless hirings over the past 40 years by the New Democracy Conservatives and PASOK Socialist administrations fueled the crisis, and the current coalition government has been reluctant to begin imposing layoffs and firings. Greece’s lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) wants the public workforce of nearly 1 million cut by 150,000 in three years.

All that came as Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras had given a “100 percent guarantee” that Greece would start to climb out from under a $460 billion debt after austerity measures cut the deficit from 9.4 to 6.5 percent in one year.

The optimistic Stournaras has been trying to give downcast Greeks a boost with his rosy expectations that their sacrifices have been worth it, although the country still has largely ignored going after tax cheats who owe more than $70 billion.

Combined with more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that have taken 46.5 percent out of the income of Greeks and slowed spending, further reducing tax expectations despite big tax hikes, the new numbers were a big setback for the government.

With tax revenues far off expectations in January, with some 775 million euros ($1.03 billion) less coming in than projected despite a 23 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) applied to restaurants, stores, and even food, the government could have nowhere else to turn to reduce costs other than more austerity measures despite Samaras’s vow he wouldn’t.