Greek December Jobless Drops for First Time Since 2008

Greece’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for the first time in almost five years in December, indicating a possible stabilization may be near after it increased more than threefold in that time.

The jobless rate dropped to 26.4 percent from a revised 26.6 percent in November, according to an e-mailed statement from the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Authority today. The last time the rate decreased was in May 2008, when it fell half a percentage point to 7.3 percent.

Greece is in the sixth year of a recession that has been amplified by austerity measures linked to bailouts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Gross domestic product contracted 6.4 percent in 2012 and the European Commission forecasts it will shrink 4.4 percent this year.

“The pressures will still be strong in the coming months as on a quarterly basis GDP will continue to contract at a relatively fast pace,” Nicholas Magginas, an economist at National Bank of Greece SA in Athens, said by phone. “There’ll be more solid evidence of whether there has been a stabilization of the rate in the second and third quarter.”

The rate for Greeks aged 15 to 24 was 57.5 percent, while the total female unemployment rate was 29.3 percent. The region with the highest unemployment rate was Attica, which includes the capital Athens, with 28.4 percent joblessness.

The statistics agency started releasing the unemployment rate on a seasonally adjusted basis from January’s 2012 data. The figures are subject to revision.

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