Greece's unemployment rate hit a new record of 27.9 percent in June - up from 27.6 in May - data by the country's statistics service (ELSTAT) showed on Thursday (September 12), as the labour market continues to buckle under austerity policies linked to the country's bailout.
Record joblessness is a headache for Greece's two-party coalition government as it scrambles to hit fiscal targets and carry out structural reforms demanded by its international creditors under a bailout.
Greek unemployment is more than twice the average rate in the euro zone of 12 percent. The Greek rate has tripled since 2008, at the start of a recession and just before the debt crisis began.
Greece wants to return to markets next year in order to avoid more loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which come with harsh cost cutting measures in the economy, but it may need another small loan next year.
In its latest wave of reforms the government is to sack 15,000 state workers by 2014. It is transferring another 25,000 state workers this year to other jobs. It is feared some of those transferred will end up being laid off as well, sparking a new wave of strikes and protests this month.
A national strike by public sector workers is planned for next week.
The economy is in its sixth straight year of recession, but on a positive note, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said this week he expected the recession to be less than forecast this year, and Greece is on course to achieve a primary budget surplus in 2013. Samaras has said he will try to relieve the burden of those most vulnerable if the country achieves a surplus.
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