- Title: GREECE: Unemployment heading higher, think-tank warns
- Date: 23rd March 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RECENTLY UNEMPLOYED JANITOR STAMATOULA KABOUNIOTI WHO HAS JUST COME OUT OF UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE SAYING; "It's difficult (to find a job). You may be able to find some kind of a job (in the end), but you might not have insurance, or the wages might be really low." INTERIOR OF UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY, OFFICE EMPLOYEES BEHIND BOOTHS UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY EMPLOYEES SITTING AT THEIR DESKS SIGN READING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN GREEK (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) UNEMPLOYED JANITOR STAMATOULA KABOUNIOTI SAYING; "Employers will make you work for 15 hours a day and pay you something like 400 or 500 euros a month. How can anyone live like that? If you have obligations, like mortgages, bank loans, how can you live off money like that?" MORE OF UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY INTERIOR, UNEMPLOYMENT AGENTS AT THEIR DESKS EMPLOYEE AT AGENCY BEHIND BOOTH WHERE YOU COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT AID (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) THEODORA MAKRI, MANAGER OF UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE, SAYING; "People keep asking for jobs, but there is not enough supply to match the demand." MORE OF BOOTHS IN UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY ROWS OF CHAIRS WHERE UNEMPLOYED SIT TO REGISTER AT UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY
- Embargoed: 7th April 2010 09:44
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Employment
- Reuters ID: LVAB2FJZB4BQXDNQC4WNIVDZOYCB
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Greek unemployment is on the rise, and will keep rising if the government does not move quickly from austerity measures to encouraging growth, an influential Athens thing-tank warned on Monday (March 22).
The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said 120,000 people have lost their jobs since 2008 due to the global financial crisis, and now with the government's fiscal measures unemployment will keep rising, reaching just over 11 percent in 2010.
Unemployment in Greece staged the biggest jump in at least 11 years in the final quarter of 2009, when Greece's jobless rate rose to 10.3 percent, up from 7.9 percent a year earlier.
"Unemployment is increasing again. And we have seen that in the last quarter of 2009, unemployment rate went up two thousand point three, this is a significant increase and the important thing is that the tendency, the trend now is upward and we expect unemployment rate to reach 11 percent of the population in 2010," Aggelos Tsakanikas, head of research at the IOBE, told Reuters The jobless rate showed the biggest year-on-year change since the quarterly data series began in 1998, indicating that the pace at which people are losing their jobs is accelerating.
Tsakanikas said construction workers are among those topping the list of unemployed, as the building industry has seen a drop due to the financial crisis. Factory workers have also been hit hard, particularly in the textile industry, as factories that have struggled for years now shut down entirely, especially in northern Greece. Youth unemployment is also rising as businesses stop hiring and struggle to retain the workers they already have.
The average jobless rate in the 16 countries using the euro was steady at 9.9 percent in January.
But Greece's working environment is different from other countries, having some peculiar characteristics, said Tsakanikas, which may help to keep unemployment levels from reaching massive numbers such as in Spain.
One is that paid employees who are laid off from companies will turn to some sort of self employment. There is also the trend of family safety nets, where families will house and support unemployed members.
"This is an important characteristic of the Greek labour market. The Greek family supports its younger members and supports them financially so they have the luxury, let's say, not to look more intense for a job," said Tsakanikas.
Due to Greece's decade of growth until 2008, there was a large level of overconsumption in the country, with banks giving out easy loans, and employers tended to overhire employees at an excessive rate.
The current fiscal measures, said Tsakanikas, will restore balance, and although people will lose their jobs it will not be as painful if the government manages to bring growth soon.
The IOBE had supported the government's austerity measures although it stressed they had to be implemented quickly.
"We will have a cost, we will suffer, but we will not reach the huge unemployment rates of Spain. I think there are possibilities in the Greek economy and if the Greek government actually tries to implement this program and also thinks on this direction of development, then we will may be able to have you know just a couple of years of recession and then be again in a growth trend," said the IOBE's head of research.
At one of the biggest unemployment agencies in central Athens, officials said two to three hundred people pass through the office per day, and in the last months this has been increasing. But the centre has a meagre ten job openings. There are currently 3,000 people receiving unemployment benefits from that office alone.
"People keep asking for jobs, but there is not enough supply to match the demand," said Theodora Makri, manager of the unemployment office.
Makri said as of February, 196,000 people in Greece are receiving unemployment aid, while statistics show that 514,000 people have been declared as unemployed.
"It's difficult (to find a job). You may be able to find some kind of a job (in the end), but you might not have insurance, or the wages might be really low," said Stamatoula Kabounioti, as she walked out of the unemployment office, after being laid off as a janitor last November.
At 41 and as the mother of two children, she says she is afraid for the future, unsure of what kind of job she will be able to find, and without being exploited by employers.
"Employers will make you work for 15 hours a day and pay you something like 400 or 500 euros a month. How can anyone live like that? If you have obligations, like mortgages, bank loans, how can you live off money like that?" she said.
Greece is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, and under pressure from the European Union and markets, the government has unveiled three tranches of spending cuts and tax hikes this year as it tries to cut the budget deficit from 12.7 percent of GDP last year to 2.8 percent by 2012.
Economists and rating agencies have said the latest cuts, designed to answer fears the economy is set to shrink more sharply than the government forecasts, could be enough to keep the budget plans on track.
They warn, however, that government implementation of the austerity measures needs to be near faultless and that there is a significant risk of further deterioration in the economy, which would shrink government revenues further.
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