* Jobless rate climbs to 26.8 pct in Dec, new record
* Greek unemployment highest in euro zone
* 1.34 million Greeks without work, up 38 pct from 2011
ATHENS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Greece’s unemployment rate climbed to a new record of 26.8 percent in October as the debt-laden country’s protracted economic slump dragged on, data showed on Thursday.
Greece’s jobless rate has almost tripled since it started rising in September 2009 as the country’s debt crisis emerged, and is more than double the average rate in the 17-nation euro zone, which stood at 11.8 percent in November.
Unemployment among youth aged 15-24 also touched a new record of 56.6 percent in October, compared with 22.1 percent in the same month four years ago, statistics service ELSTAT said.
Austerity policies imposed by the bailed-out country’s international lenders to shore up public finances have taken a toll on the battered economy, which was shrinking at an annualised rate of nearly 7 percent in the third quarter.
Greece is expected to stay in recession for a sixth consecutive year in 2013, with national output seen contracting by 4.5 percent as budget cuts and tax increases worth 9.4 billion euros weigh.
A record 1.34 million Greeks were without work in October, up 38 percent from the same month in 2011, ELSTAT said, with another 36,219 lost after September when the jobless rate stood at 26.2 percent.