Greece’s jobless rate recorded a notable decline in the April-June period, but industrialists attributed it to short-term positions in the tourism sector and public sector hirings, adding that the government should instead focus on bolstering private investment.
The second-quarter unemployment rate declined to 23.1 percent from 24.9 percent in the first quarter and 24.6 percent a year earlier, according to official data released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Employment rose by 2.7 percent from the first quarter of the year and by 2.1 percent from the second quarter of 2015.
In its weekly bulletin, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) argued that the drop in unemployment is coincidental, and mainly due to tourism, public sector hirings and the contraction of the work force due to emigration and the fact that many people seeking work for a long time have simply stopped looking for jobs.
“Without an actual increase in employment via private investments and without a reduction in non-salary costs, unemployment problems will aggravate,” SEV warns, in the face of government triumphalism: Alternate Minister for Unemployment Rania Antonopoulou claimed on Thursday that the statistics should banish all the “scaremongering” about a rise in the jobless rate while SYRIZA has been in power.
SEV went on to calculate that without the public sector hirings, the jobless rate in Greece in the first quarter of the year would have come to 25.5 percent, against the official 24.9 percent rate, and stressed that “those who believe that unemployment will continue to decline by itself, irrespective of the recessionary course of an overtaxed private economy, are in for an unpleasant surprise.”
In a speech delivered at a pharmaceutical industry event on Thursday, SEV head Theodoros Fessas said, “The macroeconomic balance may have been restored, but confidence in the Greek economy has not,” and again called on the government to implement more reforms and reduce the size of the state.