May unemployment falls on rise in visitors

May unemployment falls on rise in visitors

The start of the tourism season in May helped bring the jobless rate down to 25 percent, compared with 27 percent in May 2014 and 25.6 percent in April 2015, according to seasonally adjusted figures released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). However, the capital controls introduced in June do not bode well for the future course of the labor market.

Employment enjoyed a boost from the official beginning of the tourism period in spring as tourism employers hired staff in response to expectations of record figures in terms of arrivals. As a result, the number of jobless dropped in May to 1,200,981 people, 98,820 fewer or 7.6 percent less than in the same month in 2014, and 15,278 fewer or 1.3 percent less than in April 2015.

The number of employed people came to 3,604,102 in May, 81,832 or 2.3 percent more than in the same month last year, and 65,387 (1.8 percent) more than in April 2015. Notably, the tourism season started earlier this year as Easter came in early April, resulting in a small but not insignificant rise in employment.

Of course that growth was not enough to lift Greece from the bottom of the eurozone unemployment chart, with Spain second from last with a 22.5 percent jobless rate according to its June figures. The lowest rates were in Germany (4.7 percent) and the Czech Republic (4.9 percent), while the average rate in the eurozone came to 11.1 percent. In the European Union it averaged at 9.6 percent.

The estimates for the months after May – especially July – are particularly negative, as the introduction of capital controls has led experts to predict a wave of mass layoffs. This is confirmed by employers’ associations, which are ringing the alarm bells for the economy.

According to the Labor Ministry’s Ergani database of salaried labor, hirings in June may have outnumbered departures, but the former’s surplus was far smaller than that recorded 12 months earlier: It amounted to 8,590 jobs, 6,761 fewer compared to June 2014.

In an effort to stem this new trend toward unemployment, the Labor Ministry is preparing new programs set to run from this fall, while anticipating a surge in employment from the actions to be funded by the European Commission’s so-called Juncker package.

On Thursday, the ministry issued open invitations to entities interested in participating in the program to support some 4,000 workers sacked from 62 companies in the mass media as well as Sprider Stores and Fokas.

Budgeted at 37.5 million euros, the program is 60 percent co-funded by the European Globalization Adjustment Fund and by 40 percent from national resources.

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