BUSINESS

Labor market showing signs of gradual recovery

March unemployment drops to 26.8 pct as tourism boosts hirings

Three different statistical sources confirm that the jobs market is firmly on the road to recovery, meaning that the estimates that started coming from the Labor Ministry last year regarding a halt to the growth of unemployment have been proved correct, despite reservations by the unions. Another positive sign concerns the salary increases in most new collective contracts.

The official jobless rate for March 2014 was 26.8 percent, posting another monthly decline from February’s upwardly revised rate of 26.9 percent and a clear drop on an annual basis from March 2013, when the rate had stood at 27.2 percent, according to figures released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). The unemployed in March numbered 1,274,843 – down 2.3 percent, or 29,420 people, from March 2013.

Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis released on Thursday the May figures from the ministry’s Ergani database, which showed 59,470 more hirings than firings last month. Most of the new jobs are connected with the start of what is expected to be a record tourism season, as they concern positions such as waiters, bartenders, hotel and restaurant cooks and so on. Notably, three in every four new positions have been filled by people aged under 44 years. The majority of new jobs (57.1 percent) are full-time.

Ministry figures also revealed that in seven out of the 11 new collective contracts signed at enterprises last month the raises agreed ranged between 5 and 16.9 percent. The other four contracts, which entailed salary cuts, concerned firms with fewer than 80 employees between them.

The official number of jobless people registered with the Manpower Organization (OAED) showed a 3 percent monthly decline in April, amounting to 828,299 against 853,751 in March. The number of those registered as unemployed but not seeking work posted an 18 percent fall within one month, dropping to 164,819 from 200,875.

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