ATHENS Greece's jobless rate scaled a new high in April, as a crippling recession takes its toll after more than three years of austerity implemented in exchange for funds under an international bailout deal.
Unemployment rose to 26.9 percent from 26.8 percent in March, the highest reading since statistics service ELSTAT began publishing jobless data in 2006. It is more than twice the average rate in the euro zone, which hit 12.2 percent in May.
"The important fact is that almost two in three have been out of work for over 12 months," said economist Angelos Tsakanikas at the IOBE think tank, underscoring the deep problems in the labor market.
Those aged 15 to 24 remain the hardest-hit, even though the jobless rate for that age group eased to 57.5 percent in April from 58.3 percent in March.
Greece's unemployment rate has tripled since the crisis began in 2009, as hundreds of thousands lost work or their businesses folded, and about 700 to 1,000 Greeks have been laid off daily, according to ELSTAT estimates.
A turnaround will take time to be felt in the labor market even if a recovery sets in next year as authorities project. The central bank projects unemployment will peak at 28 percent before it starts to decline in 2015.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Writing Karolina Tagaris)