10 Aug 2013

Greek unemployment soars past 27%

9:56 am on 10 August 2013

Greece's unemployment rate has hit another record high. In May it rose to 27.6% - and for those aged between 15 and 24, the rate was a staggering 64.9%.

A year ago, the overall rate was 23.4%, the BBC reports.

The figures from the Hellenic Statistics Authority were released ahead of a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and United States President Barack Obama in Washington.

At the meeting, Mr Obama commended the Greek government for taking steps to reduce its debt pile;

but he urged Mr Samaras to balance austerity with measures to promote growth and boost jobs.

Greece - in its sixth year of recession - has been the worst affected of eurozone economies in recent years and was the first to receive an international bailout in May 2010. It got another €6.8 billion last month from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The money comes with strict conditions for reducing government debt. That means deep job cuts, tax increases, and reductions in wages and pensions.

The government's actions so far have prompted widespread public anger and protests, which have sometimes turned to violence.

Last week, figures from the official eurozone statistics agency showed the unemployment rate for the whole zone in June was 12.1%.