Greek unemployment hit a record high this summer despite a rise in tourism.
Job centres filled up as construction companies, manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers shed workers — nearly 180,000 in the last year alone — as tax hikes and spending cuts drag the economy further into recession.
Unemployment jumped to 17.7 percent of the working population between July and September. It was 16.3 percent in the previous three-month period and 15.9 percent earlier in the year.
Dimitris Markou, a 23-year-old university graduate, said he has yet to find a job: “At the moment it is a constant effort, hunting for work, and whatever I find I’ll take. I am a burden to my family and it’s getting harder and harder.The situation looks like it is going to remain the same, young people with degrees cannot find a job and end up unemployed.”
As the figures were released, Greece’s prime minister Lucas Papademos met with the top representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, who are pushing for more cuts particularly laying off additional government workers.
Things are set to get worse; an International Monetary Fund report this week projected jobless numbers would keep rising over the next two years to peak at 19.5 percent in 2013.
Greek workers angry at the relentless austerity have been staging almost daily strikes to protest against the impact of tax hikes and public spending cuts prescribed by the EU and the IMF in return for loans that have saved the country from bankruptcy.
Opinion polls show that most expect their economic situation to worsen next year as the government applies more belt-tightening to slash deficits.