Lit­tle mo­ti­va­tion for young work­ers to stay in Greece

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY THANOS TSIROS

The birth rate is drop­ping, the pop­u­la­tion growth rate has been in neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory for five years, and more than half a mil­lion peo­ple – most of them young – have left cri­sis-riven Greece. At the same time, over 50 per­cent of young adults con­tinue to live with their par­ents right up un­til their 30s.

These phe­nom­ena are be­com­ing more pro­nounced by the year and have a com­mon start­ing point: high un­em­ploy­ment among young peo­ple and the par­tic­u­larly low salaries for those lucky enough to find a job. Of­fi­cial data show that the av­er­age Greek aged up to 24 years will get 380 eu­ros per month net if he or she lands a job.

At a time when the gov­ern­ment has been brag­ging about the re­duc­tion in the job­less rate, young peo­ple con­tinue to find them­selves at an im­passe. The go­ing rates of 511 eu­ros per month gross (430 eu­ros net) for full-time jobs and 200-220 eu­ros net for part­time po­si­tions – which com­prise the lion’s share of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple – hardly al­low to­day’s 25-yearolds to share the prime min­is­ter’s op­ti­mism as re­flected in his state­ments dur­ing a re­cent visit to the La­bor Min­istry.

Even if they do get a job, young peo­ple in Greece face the worst la­bor sta­tus in Europe: In all other EU states where there are spe­cial rules for young peo­ple’s salaries, these are as­so­ci­ated with per­suad­ing em­ploy­ers to of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties to young­sters so they can gain work ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore the age of 18.

In con­trast, in Greece young work­ers know that they must reach the age of 25 to break free of the 200- or 400-euro salary brack­ets (depend­ing on work­ing hours), re­gard­less of how much ef­fort they put in or the num­ber of years they have been em­ployed.

Liv­ing with par­ents or at a rel­a­tive’s home is not a mat­ter of choice for young Greeks but sim­ply the only op­tion, de­spite the re­duc­tion in the job­less rate for those up to 24 years old. Of the to­tal 1.115 mil­lion un­em­ployed recorded by the Hel­lenic Sta­tis­ti­cal Au­thor­ity (ELSTAT) in the first quar­ter of 2017, some 125,000 are aged un­der 25. More than a third of them (some 44,000) hold at least one de­gree. And how many un­der-25s are em­ployed (full- or part-time)? An es­ti­mated 141,600, which means that up to the age of 25, the num­bers of those with a job and those with­out are al­most the same.

Young Greeks jug­gle part-time jobs.

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