Official figures show the unemployment rate in Greece increased to 27.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 as the economy struggled to emerge from a protracted recession.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, defying the country’s international lenders, said he will keep his promise to return most of a coming primary surplus to austerity victims.
Greece’s international lenders don’t want most of an expected 1.5 billion euro primary surplus to go to people most affected by austerity measures.
With Greece showing potential signs of economic recovery, international lenders don’t want the country to return to the markets, fearing complacency and easing up on reforms.
Greek pensioners face up to a four year wait for benefits when they retire, including slashed lump sums they earned, and can’t work in the meantime.
Eurozone finance chiefs pressed Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to make a deal with international lenders by March 14.
Greece failed to make a deal with international lenders before a March 10 Eurozone meeting, holding up a nine billion euros payment.
New car sales in Greece jumped 16.6 percent in February, the second straight month of what auto dealers hope is a comeback from a deep recession.
With talks over unfinished reforms stalled, Greece’s international lenders now have demanded more pay cuts for civil servants and no raises in the minimum wage.
Greek banks saw their share prices swing sharply after the country’s central bank said they need to raise billions of euros to plug holes in their finances.