Greek Unemployment Rose in Fourth Quarter as Economy Weakened

Greece’s jobless rate increased in the fourth quarter as the economy began shrinking again and a political standoff rekindled concern the country could leave the euro area.

Unemployment rose to 26.1 percent, or 1.25 million people, from 25.5 percent in the third quarter, the Hellenic Statistical Authority in Athens said on Thursday. The rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, is down from a record-high 27.8 percent in the same period of 2013. Among those aged 15 to 24, the jobless rate was 51.5 percent.

Greece is struggling to emerge from a deflationary slump that saw it lose about a quarter of its economic output since 2007 and seek a bailout. The weakened economy and surge in joblessness are the backdrop to the newly-elected government’s efforts to loosen the terms of the austerity measures tied to its aid loans.

Almost three-quarters of unemployed people, or 73 percent, were without work for a year or more, according to the fourth quarter labor-market data. That compares with 47.7 percent in same quarter of 2010, the year of Greece’s first bailout.

Gross domestic product fell 0.4 percent in the quarter, the first drop in a year, and the country could slip back into recession this quarter as revived talk of a Greek euro exit has fueled a deposit flight and left banks hanging on the ECB for emergency liquidity support.

Seasonally-adjusted monthly data from the statistics authority last week showed that unemployment rose in December for the first time since 2013.

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