ECONOMY

Greeks are the least actively employed among Europeans

Brussels – Greece holds the unenviable record of having Europe’s smallest work force relative to population, according to data released yesterday by the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat. It also «boasts» one of the highest unemployment rates among young people. The Eurostat data clearly shows that Greece is a country of non-working people since six out of 10 Greeks either cannot work, because they are too old, too young, too infirm, or may be unwilling to work. According to Eurostat, only 4.369 million Greeks, 40 percent of the total, are either actively employed or looking for work (about 500,000). In the other European Union states, by comparison, the number of active people ranges between one-half to two-thirds of the total population. The case of Portugal is a good one for comparison. It has almost the same population and about the same level of development but boasts a million more economically active people. Sweden, which has about the same active work force as Greece has a total population of more than a million less than Greece’s. It remains to be seen whether these statistics depict any extraordinary laziness on the part of the Greeks or whether they reflect the extent of the black economy and/or the great dysfunctions of the Greek economy. Even when one just takes into account the segment of the population between 15 and 64 years old, Greece has the second lowest active population, with only 56.9 percent of those people working or actively seeking a job. Still, this number has slightly recovered from 2001, when it stood at 55.4 percent. Only Italy has a lower percentage of economically active people among the segment of the population aged 15-64. Few wage-earners Another statistic that sets Greece apart is its number of salaried employees. At 60 percent of the employed total, it is by far the lowest in Europe. The EU average is 84.4 percent. Part-time employment is still marginal, with only 4.5 percent of employees being part-timers. On the opposite end, 43 percent of Dutch employees are part-timers. The number of farmers (15.8 percent) in Greece is almost four times the EU average (4 percent). On the other hand, Greece has the lowest percentage of employees in services after Portugal (61.7 percent). At least Greek salaried employees work for their money: They average 41 hours per week, behind only the British (43 hours). On the other end of the scale are the French (37.7 hours). Young people aged 15 to 24 find it hard to find a job: Excluding all those students and army conscripts, unemployment among Greek youth is 25.7 percent. It has fallen from 30 percent in 2000 but is still among the highest rates in Europe. Among young women, the unemployment is 33 percent.