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Greek Unemployment Hits Record As Poverty Spreads

By DEREK GATOPOULOS and ELENA BECATOROS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) â¿¿ Unemployment in Greece rose to a record 27 percent in November as a result of the financial crisis and austerity measures that will leave, according to one survey, nearly a third of the population in poverty by the end of the year.

The Statistics Agency said unemployment increased from a rate of 26.6 percent in October and 20.8 percent in November the previous year. More than 30,000 people lost their job in November, the agency said, with the jobless rate accelerating from earlier in the year.

Worst affected are the young, with 61.7 percent of those in the 15-24 age group without a job.

Greece is mired in the sixth year of a recession, and has been relying for nearly three years on international rescue loans to keep it afloat. In return for the bailout, the government has imposed major spending cuts and tax hikes which have hammered the economy, causing an increase in poverty and forcing thousands of businesses to close.

The economy contracted a further 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from the previous year, the statistics agency said. That followed annual contractions of 6.7, 6.4 and 6.7 percent in the previous three quarters of 2012.

New tax hikes that went into effect this month have added further pressure on the shrinking workforce: 3.6 million Greeks remain employed, but 3.3 million are registered as inactive and 1.35 million are unemployed, according to the November figures.

A study by Greece's largest labor union, GSEE, released this week projected that 3.9 million out of Greece's total population of nearly 11 million will be officially living in poverty by the end of the year, compared with 3.1 million in 2011. The poverty line in Greece is set at a personal income of less than ⿬7,200 ($9,700) per year.

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