Greece's jobless rate rose again in March, reflecting the pain of a crippling recession after years of austerity under the country's international bailout.

Unemployment rose to 26.8 percent from a downwardly revised 26.7 percent reading in February, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, and is more than twice the average rate in the euro zone which hit 12.2 percent in April.

Those aged 15 to 24 remain the hardest-hit, even though the jobless rate for that age group eased to 58.3 percent in March from 64.2 percent in February.

As the economy shrinks for a sixth straight year and with 1.3 million people officially without jobs - more than the population of neighbouring Cyprus - the pain is felt across the board. Borrowers have fallen behind on loans and fewer workers are paying into pension funds.

Unemployment is a major concern for Greece's coalition government as it scrambles to hit targets under the bailout program but also shows that there is light after years of unpopular measures such as wages and pension cuts and tax rises.

Economic austerity exacerbated the recession, after it caused thousands of shops to shut down when consumption dropped.

On Wednesday the government announced it will seek approval from the European Commission to access 170 million euros of available EU regional development funds to create job programs. The finance ministry said it has already tapped 207 million euros of national reserve funds for job creation projects around the country, such as training programs and new business initiatives.

Presented by Adam Justice