ECONOMY

Much unemployment in Greece remains hidden

Is there hidden unemployment? And if it exists, how is it determined? The Employment Observatory at the Manpower and Employment Organization (OAED) has attempted to give a first, official definition to this question by evaluating the labor market based on 20 indicators used by the European Commission. Its conclusions relate to a segment of real unemployment that is excluded from the official unemployment figure. This is the labor reserve indicator, which counts the jobless who want to work and those who actively look for work as well as others who wish to work but are not registered as unemployed. For the period 1997 to 2001, the EU figure was between 5.3 percent and 7.4 percent. The Greek figure did not diverge too significantly from the EU average. In 2001, however, the Greek figure of 6.5 percent was the third highest in the EU. Spain had the highest rate at 8.4 percent, followed by Finland with 8 percent. Luxembourg had the lowest at 1.2 percent, followed by the Netherlands with 1.6 percent. In Greece, the figure ranged from 6 percent to 7.5 percent in the five-year period. What is worrying is that it has not showed any signs of decline, unlike the majority of EU countries. The Employment Observatory also found that a relatively small percentage of people want to work but are either discouraged by problems in the labor market or family problems. The average EU rate for men hovered around 3 to 3.5 percent and for women around 5.5 to 6.5 percent. In Greece, it came to about 1 percent for men and for 2-4 percent for women. The observatory also went one step further as it compared the labor reserve indicator with the total unemployment rate in EU countries in an attempt to find out how serious the jobless problem is in each member state. The conclusion was that Greece, along with Spain, France, Finland and Italy, have high unemployment rates. Finland and Italy, in addition, had high labor reserve rates originating from the non-active population. Greece and France had lower rates. The UK showed a low unemployment rate at the same time it simultaneously showed a high jobless rate and high labor reserve rate coming from the non-active population. Sweden, Portugal and Luxembourg showed low unemployment rates and low labor reserve rates. The data for the labor reserve was taken from a paper prepared by O. Kaminioti.