UPDATE 2-Greek Q4 GDP slumps 6.0 pct y/y, unemployment hits record
* Q4 2012 GDP shrinks 6.0 pct - flash estimates * Unemployment hits 27 pct, youth jobless rate at 61.7 pct * GDP expected to shrink more than 4 pct again this year ATHENS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Greece's economy shrank 6.0 percent in the last quarter of 2012 from the same period a year earlier and the jobless rate hit a record high of 27 percent, data from Eurostat and Greek statistics service ELSTAT showed on Thursday. The economy, which has shrunk 20 percent in real GDP terms since the recession began in 2008, is likely to contract again this year as the country implements the tough austerity policies demanded by its international lenders. Greece's young people have been hit particularly hard by the grinding recession, with a whopping 61.7 percent of those aged 15 to 24 out of work based on the data, driving up the popularity of parties that oppose the country's bailout deals. "It is a pretty disappointing figure which may not constitute the peak of the cycle, as unemployment is usually a lagging indicator of economic activity," said Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos. Greek unemployment was more than double the euro zone's average rate of 11.7 percent in November, and the highest in the 17-nation bloc. The data showed that 1.35 million Greeks were officially without work in November, more than three times as many as five years ago. Economists expect even more job losses. On Thursday the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), a state think-tank, forecast that the unemployment rate will climb further to 30 percent. The slump in economic output in the last three months of 2012 followed a revised 6.7 percent decline in gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter and a 7.1 percent contraction in 2011. The latest figures bring the full-year 2012 contraction to 6.45 percent. Athens projects the 195 billion euro economy will contract by 4.5 percent this year. KEPE projected a slightly milder decline of 4.1 percent.
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