ECONOMY

Employment rose marginally over past 3 years, study finds

Companies active in property management and leasing were among those contributing the most toward job creation in the period 2000-2002, the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) revealed yesterday. The OAED study, which used data collected by the National Statistics Service, reveals that, during the past three years, job creation was marginal; the number of employed increased just 0.07 percent, to 3,948,902. This means the net number of jobs created was 2,625. Property management is a relatively undeveloped sector in Greece which has only recently shown signs of stirring, thanks to the opportunities created by the 2004 Athens Olympics and legislation making it easier to do business in the sector, including allowing state enterprises to develop their huge property portfolio. Property management was second in the percentage rise in jobs in 2002 (5.9 percent), far behind fishing (21.5 percent). By contrast, investment firms and brokerages were badly hurt by the continuing crisis at the Athens Stock Exchange, losing 14,826 jobs over the past three years. Other job-creating sectors were mining, construction, hotels, restaurants, the civil service, defense, social security and education. More than one in six of all employed Greeks (17.1 percent) are to be found in wholesale and retail commerce. The importance of this sector marginally declined in the past three years, but that was nothing compared to the steep decline of employment in farming (including animal farming) and forestry. The sector lost 49,246 jobs and employed 15.5 percent of the total in 2002, from 16.7 percent in 2000. The primary sector as a whole – which includes fishing – lost 46,850 jobs. Industry added a mere 3,520 positions and services added 45,968. The number of self-employed remained unchanged, at 24.4 percent of the total employed; 27.8 percent of working men (down from 28.4 percent in 2000) and 18.9 percent of working women (up from 17.8 percent in 2000) are self-employed. This is a far higher percentage than in other European Union countries. Interestingly, the self-employed, who do not employ others, are the least educated part of the population, with 61.3 percent having finished primary school, at best. On the other hand, 35.5 percent of salaried employees have gone to university. Increasing role of immigrants A study by the Center for Planning and Economic Research shows that if not for the massive influx of immigrants, overall employment in Greece would have declined. The study is a projection rather than an accounting of the present numbers of immigrants; it predicts that by the year 2040, the number of employees who are immigrants or their descendants will rise to 4 million. From being a country of very few immigrants, Greece has become, in just over a decade, a country where immigrants account for almost 10 percent of the population. The author of the study, Loukis Athanassiou, believes that the data revealed by the 2001 census convinced the government that the immigrants would save the social security system from financial collapse and that, therefore, only a little tinkering with the system was required to make it viable in the long term.