Unemployment climbs to 17%

Unemployment climbs to 17%

The unemployment rate climbed to 17% in May, according to data released Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

May was the month when the lockdown imposed in late March to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic began to be gradually lifted. So, the unemployment figure is also a metric of how much the lockdown shrank overall economic activity.

May’s unemployment rate was the highest in nine months. The rate among 15-24-year-olds was the highest in over a year, raising worries among officials.

There’s a silver lining to this: Since the domestic job market depends heavily on seasonal tourism and, since preliminary data show that 50,000 new jobs were created in July, the rate is expected to drop.

The record creation of jobs is due to the inevitably late start in the tourist season and the fact that many of Greece’s largest hotels opened at a significant delay, some three and a half months later than usual.

But the overall picture for the first seven months of the year is negative, due largely to the lockdown. Thus, from January to July 2020, 95,000 jobs were created, far fewer than the 281,775 during the same period in 2019. But in previous Julys layoffs exceeded hirings. Last year, for example, there was a net loss of 14,691 jobs in July.

According to the ELSTAT data, the April unemployment rate was 15.7% and that of May 2019 was 17.2%.

The number of employed people declined by 193,212, or 4.9%, in May compared to the same month last year, and by 128,924 (3.3%) compared to April 2020. All figures are seasonally adjusted.

According to Eurostat rules, those whose contracts have been suspended due to the pandemic are considered employed if the suspension lasts up to three months or they are paid over 50% their regular salary.

The actual number of jobless compared to May 2019 declined by 52,396, but that of the economically inactive – defined as those not only without a job but also not actively seeking one – rose by 205,247, and by 77,988 compared to April 2020.

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