The number of companies and enterprises that were forced to close down last year numbered about 10,000, according to traders' associations and chambers. This translates into the loss of some 24,000 jobs in the sector, which also confirms the relevant National Statistical Service data. Employees in commerce dropped by 2.8 percent in the third quarter of last year compared with the same quarter in 2008, amounting to some 23,600 workers. In the same period, the number of employers shrank by 10 percent to drop to 97,600 people, while the number of self-employed declined by 4 percent year-on-year, National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) data published yesterday showed. In the area of Piraeus alone, there were some 1,700 enterprises that closed down last year.