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Record Greek jobless rate highest in euro zone in September

ATHENS (Reuters) - Unemployment in Greece climbed to a new record of 26 percent in September, topping that of Spain to become the highest in the euro area, data by Greece's statistics service ELSTAT showed on Thursday.

Greece's jobless rate has almost tripled since it started climbing in September 2009, driven higher by the global financial crisis and then by severe austerity policies imposed by the bailed-out country's international lenders.

Unemployment is more than double the euro zone average of 11.6 percent, edging past the rate in struggling Spain, which was 25.8 percent in September, according to data from European statistics agency Eurostat. Greece's jobless rate climbed from a revised 25.3 percent in August.

The Greek economy is now in its fifth year of recession and is expected to have shrunk by almost a quarter before recovery begins in 2014, according to the country's central bank.

This has taken its toll on the labor market, especially for the young. Unemployment among those aged 15-24 stood at 56 percent in September, compared with 22 percent in the same month four years ago.

A record 1.3 million Greeks were without work in September, up 38 percent from the same month last year, ELSTAT said.

Spain's unemployment was 26.2 percent in October, according to Eurostat.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Harry Papachristou; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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