Self-em­ploy­ment be­comes only op­tion as salaried la­bor drops

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY THANOS TSIROS

Poli­cies pur­sued by suc­ces­sive Greek gov­ern­ments in the past few years have led to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in salaried em­ploy­ment – which now ac­counts for 65.89 per­cent of to­tal em­ploy­ment in the coun­try, against the Euro­pean Union av­er­age of 84.74 per­cent and over 85 per­cent across the eu­ro­zone – and a re­sul­tant in­crease in self-em­ploy­ment.

From 2008 to 2015, salaried em­ploy­ment dropped by some 645,000 peo­ple, mainly due to suc­ces­sive waves of sack­ings. For thou­sands of salaried work­ers who sud­denly found them­selves out of a job, self-em­ploy­ment was seen as the only op­tion.

Hikes in taxes, more­over, leave lit­tle scope for an ex­pan­sion of salaried em­ploy­ment. It is es­ti­mated that the sum with­held from the salary of a worker in a new job ex­ceeds 40 per­cent, even for those at the bot­tom end of the wage scale. On the other hand, ex­ces­sive tax­a­tion has pushed the vast ma­jor­ity of self-em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als to tax eva­sion.

All this serves to ex­plain why one in three Greeks is self-em­ployed, a rate far above sec­ond­placed Italy with 22.1 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat data.

Greece’s cred­i­tors have re­peat­edly stressed this Greek pe­cu­liar­ity in their re­ports and ap­plied pres­sure so that ef­forts to re­duce un­em­ploy­ment are based pri­mar­ily on salaried em­ploy­ment, even if it is on a part-time ba­sis.

How­ever, the poli­cies im­ple­mented have not helped and it will be very dif­fi­cult for this bal­ance in the la­bor mar­ket to shift in the next two or three years at least. Sta­tis­tics show that a small in­crease in em­ployee fig­ures com­pared to 2013 is thanks to the part-time hir­ings.

Euro­stat has found that the num­ber of salaried work­ers, both in the public and pri­vate sec­tors, came to 2.34 mil­lion in Greece in end-2015, with the public sec­tor em­ploy­ing al­most 680,000 peo­ple, de­spite the re­duc­tion at­trib­uted to re­tire­ments in re­cent years. The num­bers show that state work­ers have seen their share in­crease in the to­tal em­ploy­ment pie, as one in five em­ploy­ees re­ceiv­ing a salary works in the public sec­tor. We can there­fore cond­lude that the ane­mic pri­vate sec­tor is re­spon­si­ble for Greece rank­ing last across Europe in salaried work­ers.

Self-em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als in Greece came to 1.06 mil­lion in 2015, drop­ping by 225,000 since 2008.

Em­ploy­ment in the broader public sec­tor amounts to some 680,000 peo­ple, mean­ing one in five work­ers with a salary is in the state sec­tor.

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