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UN warns of 'catastrophic' jobless rise after if Greece exits eurozone

BERLIN -- The International Labour Organization warned Friday of a “catastrophic” rise in unemployment, especially among the young, if debt-wracked Greece were to leave the eurozone or if the bloc were to split.

“It would be a catastrophe for the European youth,” Ekkehard Ernst, a senior economist at the U.N. body, told the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Unemployment in crisis-hit Spain would rise to 27.7 percent by 2014, the ILO economist calculated, with jobless rates among 15-24 year-olds rising to 51.3 percent. Portugal would also suffer a crippling rise in unemployment.

In Germany, Europe's top economy, which is currently enjoying unemployment rates near record lows, close to one in ten would be without a job by 2014.

“The average unemployment rate in the 17 eurozone member states would rise to 13 percent,” Ernst told the paper.

The situation would be even worse if the single-currency zone were to break up completely, cautioned the economist.

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