BUSINESS

Despite busy tourism season, joblessness soars

By Christina Kopsini

Greek joblessness remained on an upward course in May despite the start of the tourist season, when hiring usually rebounds, and with nearly two-thirds of young people out of work.

According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the country’s unemployment rate rose to 27.6 percent from 27 percent in April and 23.8 percent in May 2012. The somewhat paradoxical development, corroborated by Labor Ministry data which show an increase in layoffs in some tourist areas, may be explained by the combination of a rise in uninsured work in the tourism sector, the widespread use of apprenticeships for citizens of Eastern European countries and mutually agreed termination of work contracts for employees to collect unemployment benefit.

The official number of those in employment fell by 171,356, or 4.5 percent, in 12 months, bringing the total over five years to 945,824. The ranks of the unemployed grew by 193,669 individuals in May from a year earlier, bringing the total to 1,381,088. Those in work numbered 3,621,153 and the economically non-active population 3,318, 671. The new jobless, laid off between May 2008 and May 2013, came to 1,024,088.

Over the same period, the unemployment rate grew fivefold among those aged 45-54, reaching 20.9 percent, and fourfold in the 35-44 age group, in which it now amounts to 37.7 percent. But the worst-hit age group by far is that of young people up to 25, where unemployment now stands at 64.9 percent.

Separately, Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis has ordered extensive checks on tourist enterprises which laid off staff at the height of the tourist season in order to ascertain any violations of labor legislation. The ministry’s electronic monitoring system showed unjustifiably high rates of dismissals in certain areas in the first week of August, including Attica, Thassos, Zakynthos, Halkidiki, Messinia and Ilia.

In a further paradoxical twist, the system showed a positive balance of 91,611 new hirings in the first seven months of the year.

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