Last month’s employment figures point to worst January in 15 years


Labor Ministry figures released on Tuesday point to a dramatic increase in layoffs over hirings last month, making it the worst January for job openings in the last 15 years. At the same time, the growth in the number of people registered as unemployed with the Manpower Organization (OAED) and the increasing number of employers seeking applicants for flexible forms of work are fueling the feeling of insecurity and highlighting the absence of an efficient investment and growth program.

The numbers issued on Tuesday, from the Ergani database and OAED, are a cause of concern for the government and the market, with the opposition speaking of a deliberate delay by the Labor Ministry in their publication due to their deterioration.

Market professionals warn that the trend toward falling unemployment is being reversed. They also note that the Greek labor market is again dominated by flexibility and the intensification of labor and, probably, uninsured labor, although previous efforts to reduce illegal work had led to a rise in official employment.

They add that the figures illustrate the extent of the local labor market’s dependence on the seasonal factor, with the ministry noting that in the first five days of January, departures, contract expiries and layoffs amounted to 33,000, while in the rest of the month there was a positive balance to the tune of 4,000 jobs.

In total, January saw 156,318 departures and 126,501 hirings, for an overall deficit of 29,817 jobs. In January 2016 the deficit had amounted to just under 10,000 jobs. The first month of the year usually ends up in the red, but this was the first time the deficit had come so close to 30,000 jobs. At the height of the labor market crisis, in January 2011, the deficit had come to 28,995 jobs.

Flexible forms of employment, such as part-time jobs and shift work, were dominant in last month’s hirings, accounting for 53.51 percent of the openings, Ergani figures showed. The biggest deficit was in the 30-to-44-year age group, where 12,125 jobs were lost.

OAED announced that the number of people registered with the organization as unemployed grew by 17,337 last month from December 2016 and by 24,652 from January 2016.