By Dimitra Manifava
Employment in Greek commerce has gone back 16 years, to 1997 levels, as more than 175,000 jobs have been lost since 2008, according to an annual review of the sector by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) issued on Monday.
The price has been heavy not only for salaried workers, but also for employers and the self-employed, who represent about half of those to have lost their jobs lost in commerce over the last five years. This has resulted from the closure of no fewer than 130,000 enterprises, against the opening of just 45,000 enterprises between 2009 and 2013.
It appears the future will be particularly difficult, as economic analysts agree that it will take at least 20 years for the losses in employment to be recovered, provided that the economy shows a rebound rate of 3.5 percent per annum in the years to come.
The ESEE report showed that employment in the sector declined for a fifth consecutive year to remain below the 700,000-job level for the second year in a row. The latest data show there are 656,156 workers in the sector, while this year alone 23,194 jobs have been lost in commerce. The trade sector has lost 176,400 jobs since 2008, with the biggest share of that (47 percent) being employers and the self-employed.
As the director of the Small Businesses Institute of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE), Dionysis Gravaris, said, according to a confederation survey, some 30 percent of the homeless in Athens are former merchants or self-employed.
“We’ll need 20 years to recoup our losses as the first couple of years of the rebound will not come with an increase in employment,” commented Panteion University professor Apostolos Dedousopoulos.
Meanwhile the number of overtime hours has grown by 8.5 percent since 2008, while unpaid overtime work has expanded by 76.4 percent. At the same time the share of part-time work has almost doubled, rising from 4.5 percent five years ago to 8.2 percent this year, according to the ESEE survey.
The prospect of shutting down for commercial enterprises in the coming year is significant, according to the ESEE research, but not as high as last year, as one in 10 companies in the sector feel there is a high risk or a certainty of closure.