By Christina Kopsini
The jobless rate in Greece is continuing to inch lower as in February it declined for the fifth month in succession on a yearly basis, dropping to 26.5 percent from 26.7 percent in the same month of 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data showed on Thursday.
Furthermore, figures from the Labor Ministry’s Ergani employment register showed that hirings in April not only outnumbered dismissals by a long shot but were also more than twice those counted in April 2013 (60,600 against 29,298).
The positive employment figures have therefore been retained through the first four months of 2014 with a result of 101,476 more hirings than sackings against 20,460 in 2013 and negative results in 2012 and 2011.
Commenting on the latest statistical data on Thursday, Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said that “after the stability the unemployment rate showed during 2013, it has now entered a declining course for good. The jobless rate has been declining for five months in a row for the first time since the start of the crisis in 2009, and during winter: From 27.7 percent in September it has declined to 26.5 percent in February.”
While the figures do confirm an increase in employment this is mostly for temporary and flexible work, and therefore less well-paid jobs, in the broader service sector. However, full-time employment is also showing a surge this year, climbing from 51,987 contracts in January to 89,616 in April. Part-time contracts also grew, but at a lower rate, from 32,674 to 41,164, as did flexible labor contracts, from 10,789 to 15,032.
That rise in full-time positions is encouraging in view of the ministry’s battle against undeclared labor, given the increased inspections and the higher fines imposed on employers who fail to declare all their employees.