Lower salaries, fewer new businesses in Greece


Greek people of working age are caught between low salaries as employees and the low chances of successfully starting a business of their own, two surveys revealed on Wednesday, as the state only seems to look after its own.

A report by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) has found that as many as one in four workers received net salaries of less than 500 euros per month in 2017, based on figures from the Labor Ministry’s Ergani employee database. “Keeping output low also leads to keeping salaries low,” SEV warned in its weekly financial bulletin.

The average salary dropped from 1,011.2 euros per month in 2014 to 982.4 euros in 2017. At the same time the salaries of public sector workers have soared, with the average rising to 1,502 euros per month in 2017 from 1,286.6 euros in 2014; this mainly concerns contract workers and those who have been transferred to another part of the public sector (areas recorded by Ergani).

Part-time employment rose slightly between 2014 and 2017, reaching 28.4 percent of the total, while full-time work has dropped to 67.7 percent. However, this does not account for undeclared labor, which is primarily part-time.

Meanwhile, the annual report on entrepreneurship by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) revealed that 2017 saw the lowest rate of early-stage entrepreneurship since 2003, when such surveys started. Last year just 4.8 percent of the population aged between 18 and 64 – i.e. fewer than 320,000 people – fell into the category ranging from the early stages of starting an enterprise to having run a business for up to three-and-a-half years. This compared with a 5.7 percent rate in 2016.

IOBE explains that the decline recorded last year is associated with the increase in the tax burden on freelance professionals, since starting a business also includes self-employment.

The majority of new businesses (54.6 percent) continued to concern the supply of products and services to consumers, focusing mainly on cafes and restaurants, tourism accommodation and apparel retail. This is down from 58.1 percent in 2016, but remains far above the rate of innovative countries (47.5 percent).