l The government has said it will extend a programme of benefit payments to the long-term unemployed until the jobless rate drops below 20 percent.
The announcement comes a day after official data showed the country's jobless rate surged to a modern-day record of 26.02 percent in the final quarter of 2012 with nearly six million people out of work. The programme pays 400-450 euros a month to tens of thousands of people whose eligibility for the standard two-year unemployment benefit has run out. It was introduced by the former Socialist government in February 2011 and has since been renewed every six months.


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