* June jobless rate climbs to 27.9 pct, up from 24.6 in June
* Youth jobless rate at 58.8 pct
ATHENS, Sept 12 Greece's jobless rate hit a
record high of 27.9 percent in June, data showed on Thursday, as
the labour market continued to buckle in a deep recession with
austerity policies linked to the country's bailout.
Unemployment rose from 27.6 percent in May, and was more
than twice the average rate in the euro zone of 12.1 percent in
July. The latest reading was the highest since Greek statistics
service ELSTAT began publishing monthly jobless data in 2006.
Such data, however, tends to lag other growth indicators,
which Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos said were painting
a slightly less bleak picture.
"Recent data for the annual change in employment and new
private sector hirings suggest the jobless rate may be
approaching a cyclical peak," he said.
Government officials have also suggested that there are
tentative signs of Greece having hit bottom, including in
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said last week he believed
the 2013 slump would be smaller than forecast and economic pain
would ease next year.
A government official told Reuters on Monday the economy
would shrink by less than 4 percent this year versus the 4.2
percent forecast by international lenders.
The government was now looking at a 3.8 percent contraction
this year, a government official said, confirming a report in
financial daily Naftemporiki.
The ELSTAT figures showed a 1.2 percent month-on-month drop
in seasonally unadjusted unemployment, the biggest recorded
since May 2008. This means that joblessness is set to fall in
the coming months, according to a labour ministry official
speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.
Sustained month-on-month drops in seasonally unadjusted
figures would point to a change in trend, ELSTAT said.
In addition, tourism, which accounts for about a fifth of
Greece's economic output and one in five jobs is having a bumper
season. Revenues are seen rising 10 percent in 2013, to 11
billion euros, with more than 17 million visitors - a record -
The overall unemployment rate has nonetheless more than
tripled since 2008, the start of a six-year recession which has
wiped out about a quarter of Greece's economy.
Joblessness is a major headache for the government as it
scrambles to hit fiscal targets and carry out structural reforms
demanded by its international creditors.
YOUTH HARDEST HIT
Correcting Greece's economic imbalances has come at a very
high cost. Data showed those aged 15 to 24 remained the
hardest-hit as the jobless rate in this age group, excluding
students and military conscripts, registered 58.8 percent.
With the economy in its sixth straight year of recession and
1.4 million people officially without jobs, the pain is felt
across the board with borrowers falling behind on loans and
fewer workers paying into state pension funds.
A turnaround will take time to be felt in the labour market
even if recovery sets in next year as authorities project. The
central bank sees unemployment peaking at 28 percent before it
starts to decline in 2015.
The European Union and the IMF, which bankroll Greece,
expect unemployment will average out at 27 percent this year and
ease to 26 percent in 2014. Greece's largest private sector
labour union GSEE has a more grim outlook, expecting it to climb
to 29-30 percent this year and hit 31.5 percent in 2014.
Greece's anti-bailout leftists have taken a narrow opinion
poll lead over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's ruling
conservatives, two opinion polls published on Thursday showed.
If elections were held today, the opposition Syriza party
would get 29 percent of the vote versus 28 percent for Samaras's
New Democracy party, a poll by public issue for Skai TV found.
A second poll by Pulse for the To Pontiki newspaper put
support for Syriza at 23 percent, giving it a 1.5 percentage
point lead over New Democracy.