Unemployment in Greece hit a record 23.1% in May, a rise of 6.5% from May 2011. Even worse, among people less than 25 years old, the rate is 54.9%.
Just before the wheels fell off the Greek economy in 2009, the country posted an unemployment rate of 9.1%, very high by U.S. standards, but a number any Greek would willingly take now. Following eurozone bailouts and the strict austerity measures demanded by lenders, the government has been cutting spending severely which, in turn, reduces demand and leads to job losses in the private sector as well. Only Spain, with an unemployment rate of 24.7%, has a bigger jobs problem than Greece.
In one bit of good news for Greece today, industrial production rose 0.3% year-over-year in June, following a 2.9% drop in May. This is the first year-over-year rise in production since 2008, although month-over-month production rates have been rising this year — with the exception of May.
Greece has agreed to shed another 15,000 public sector jobs by the end of this year as part of a plan to cut public sector jobs by 150,000 by 2015. The country’s unemployment rate has probably not seen a top yet.