The 51% Tragedy: A Majority of Young Greek Workers Are Now Unemployed

For the first time on record, more young Greek workers are without a job than with one, Reuters reports.*

Official youth unemployment in Greece has crossed the 50 percent barrier and there's very little reason to think that this is the ceiling. The economy is still shrinking. The latest round of austerity, which will punish wages and lead to more firings, has yet to set in. And, as economic pain tends to inflict itself disproportionately on the young -- young unemployment in the US is similarly twice the national rate -- there's good reason to expect that austerity will bite Greece's young economy even more severely.

Here's the graph from Eurostat data, via FT Alphaville. It only goes back to the end of 2011, but it gives you a sense of the scale of the crisis:

greek unemployed.pngPutting the picture into words: The youth unemployment rate in Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria is between 8 and 9 percent. The youth unemployment rate in Spain and Greece is between 49 and (as we learned today) 51 percent.

Remember two things: (1) Things will get worse for Greece's economy before they get better, and (2) Unemployment is a lagging indicator, which means that things will get worse for Greek unemployment even after the economy gets better, which is scheduled to happen after the economy gets worse.

*Update: Spain, too.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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