World Bulletin / News Desk
Greece's jobless rate scaled a new record high in April, data showed on Thursday, providing gloomy news for the hard-pressed coalition government that emerged from the country's rerun election in June.
Greece is suffering a fifth year of recession and depends on financial aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which have imposed budget cuts that have caused a wave of corporate closures and triggered job losses.
Unemployment hit 22.5 percent in April, up from an upwardly revised 22 percent in March, with 1.109 million people out of work, ELSTAT, Greece's statistics service said. It was a sharp rise from 16.2 percent in April last year.
"Some temporary support may be provided over the summer months, especially from the tourism sector," said Platon Monokroussos, an economist at EFG Eurobank.
"However, given the fact that the jobless rate is a lagging indicator of broader economic activity, unemployment may not have reached its peak yet."
The conservative-led coalition government is struggling to reconcile the need for painful austerity in line with its bailout deal from international lenders with the need to keep social peace among its recession-ravaged population. A deputy minister resigned on Monday saying the government was not pressing hard enough for relief from harsh bailout conditions.
Tourism, a key sector which accounts for about one in five jobs, is expected to turn out weak this year and revenue tumbled by 15.1 percent in the first quarter.
The sharp deterioration in the Greek labour market, coupled with steep cuts in pay and pensions prescribed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, has fuelled growing social anger.
Unemployment in Greece is twice the average for the 17 countries sharing the euro, which stood at 11.1 percent in May, and is fast approaching that of Spain, which hit 24.4 percent in the first quarter.
More than half of Greeks aged 15-24 are without work.
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Slovak Economy Minister Tomas Malatinsky said a deal allowing shipment of the gas via an unused pipeline between the two countries was almost ready.
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The pipeline was closed as a precaution following the discovery of the fuel store