May un­em­ploy­ment falls on rise in visi­tors

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ROULA SALOUROU

The start of the tourism sea­son in May helped bring the job­less rate down to 25 per­cent, com­pared with 27 per­cent in May 2014 and 25.6 per­cent in April 2015, ac­cord­ing to sea­son­ally ad­justed fig­ures re­leased yesterday by the Hel­lenic Sta­tis­ti­cal Au­thor­ity (ELSTAT). How­ever, the cap­i­tal con­trols in­tro­duced in June do not bode well for the fu­ture course of the la­bor mar­ket.

Em­ploy­ment en­joyed a boost from the of­fi­cial be­gin­ning of the tourism pe­riod in spring as tourism em­ploy­ers hired staff in re­sponse to ex­pec­ta­tions of record fig­ures in terms of ar­rivals. As a re­sult, the num­ber of job­less dropped in May to 1,200,981 peo­ple, 98,820 fewer or 7.6 per­cent less than in the same month in 2014, and 15,278 fewer or 1.3 per­cent less than in April 2015.

The num­ber of em­ployed peo­ple came to 3,604,102 in May, 81,832 or 2.3 per­cent more than in the same month last year, and 65,387 (1.8 per­cent) more than in April 2015. No­tably, the tourism sea­son started ear­lier this year as Easter came in early April, re­sult­ing in a small but not in­signif­i­cant rise in em­ploy­ment.

Of course that growth was not enough to lift Greece from the bot­tom of the eu­ro­zone un­em­ploy­ment chart, with Spain sec­ond from last with a 22.5 per­cent job­less rate ac­cord­ing to its June fig­ures. The low­est rates were in Ger­many (4.7 per­cent) and the Czech Re­pub­lic (4.9 per­cent), while the av­er­age rate in the eu­ro­zone came to 11.1 per­cent. In the Euro­pean Union it av­er­aged at 9.6 per­cent.

The es­ti­mates for the months af­ter May – es­pe­cially July – are par­tic­u­larly neg­a­tive, as the in­tro­duc­tion of cap­i­tal con­trols has led ex­perts to pre­dict a wave of mass lay­offs. This is con­firmed by em­ploy­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions, which are ring­ing the alarm bells for the econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to the La­bor Min­istry’s Er­gani data­base of salaried la­bor, hir­ings in June may have out­num­bered de­par­tures, but the for­mer’s sur­plus was far smaller than that recorded 12 months ear­lier: It amounted to 8,590 jobs, 6,761 fewer com­pared to June 2014.

In an ef­fort to stem this new trend to­ward un­em­ploy­ment, the La­bor Min­istry is pre­par­ing new pro­grams set to run from this fall, while an­tic­i­pat­ing a surge in em­ploy­ment from the ac­tions to be funded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s so-called Juncker pack­age.

Yesterday, the min­istry is­sued open in­vi­ta­tions to en­ti­ties in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram to sup­port some 4,000 work- ers sacked from 62 com­pa­nies in the mass media as well as Sprider Stores and Fokas. Bud­geted at 37.5 mil­lion eu­ros, the pro­gram is 60 per­cent co-funded by the Euro­pean Glob­al­iza­tion Ad­just­ment Fund and by 40 per­cent from na­tional re­sources.

The tourism sea­son started ear­lier this year, as Easter came in early April, re­sult­ing in a small but not in­signif­i­cant in­crease in em­ploy­ment at the coun­try’s pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

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