Little motivation for young workers to stay in Greece

Little motivation for young workers to stay in Greece

The birth rate is dropping, the population growth rate has been in negative territory for five years, and more than half a million people – most of them young – have left crisis-riven Greece. At the same time, over 50 percent of young adults continue to live with their parents right up until their 30s.

These phenomena are becoming more pronounced by the year and have a common starting point: high unemployment among young people and the particularly low salaries for those lucky enough to find a job. Official data show that the average Greek aged up to 24 years will get 380 euros per month net if he or she lands a job.

At a time when the government has been bragging about the reduction in the jobless rate, young people continue to find themselves at an impasse. The going rates of 511 euros per month gross (430 euros net) for full-time jobs and 200-220 euros net for part-time positions – which comprise the lion’s share of employment opportunities for young people – hardly allow today’s 25-year-olds to share the prime minister’s optimism as reflected in his statements during a recent visit to the Labor Ministry.

Even if they do get a job, young people in Greece face the worst labor status in Europe: In all other EU states where there are special rules for young people’s salaries, these are associated with persuading employers to offer opportunities to youngsters so they can gain work experience before the age of 18.

In contrast, in Greece young workers know that they must reach the age of 25 to break free of the 200- or 400-euro salary brackets (depending on working hours), regardless of how much effort they put in or the number of years they have been employed.

Living with parents or at a relative’s home is not a matter of choice for young Greeks but simply the only option, despite the reduction in the jobless rate for those up to 24 years old. Of the total 1.115 million unemployed recorded by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) in the first quarter of 2017, some 125,000 are aged under 25. More than a third of them (some 44,000) hold at least one degree. And how many under-25s are employed (full- or part-time)? An estimated 141,600, which means that up to the age of 25, the numbers of those with a job and those without are almost the same.

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