The official Greek unemployment rate has risen to 26 percent as the near-bankrupt eurozone country heads toward a sixth year of recession.
The Greek statistics office ELSTAT announced on Thursday that the jobless number rose to 1.295 million in September, pushing up the unemployment rate from 25.3 the previous month and 18.9 percent a year earlier, the Associated Press reported.
The September figures revealed that the number of people employed stood at 3,695,053 while 3,373,692 were listed as financially inactive.
Joblessness is at the highest since the agency began publishing monthly data in 2004.
Greek unemployment is now more than double the eurozone average of 11.6 percent in September, surpassing the rate in struggling Spain, which was 25.8 percent in the month, according to data released by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office.
On Wednesday, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded Greece’s already junk-level debt rating to “selective default” after the debt-ridden country launched an operation to buy back bonds at well below their face value.
On Monday, Greece announced plans to spend up to 13 billion US dollars (10 billion euros) on the buyback as part of the latest effort to bring its staggering debt load under control. The buyback is a condition for the recession-hit country to receive its latest installment of bailout funds from the European Union and the International Monetary Funds.
The country has been surviving on bailout loans from its international creditors since May 2012.
Earlier this week, the Bank of Greece forecast that the country’s economy would shrink by more than 6 percent this year, and by a further 4-4.5 percent next year.
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is entering its sixth year of recession because of the government-introduced harsh austerity measures that has resulted in more than a quarter of Greeks losing their jobs.