ECONOMY

Big firms create jobs

Greece has more than 715,000 private enterprises. Of these, 646,500 employ less than six people and 704,500 up to 20. That is, 98.6 percent of private businesses are not subject to the legal restrictions concerning layoffs (up to 2 percent annually) – the small enterprise can hire and fire more or less at will. The data regarding the size of Greek enterprises are impressive indeed, highlighting the basic difference between the Greek economy and more developed ones. But the fact remains that firms with 21 and more employees, representing 1.4 percent of the whole, account for 36.7 percent of employment. The particular weight which the relatively few large enterprises have on employment often feeds the myths about the need to seek greater labor flexibility, belittling the unrestricted flexibility in small enterprises. In these, labor inspections are much less frequent. Indeed, businesses with just one employee can make use of the subsidized «work experience» programs and hire staff temporarily without cost. This may be one of the reasons why temporary employment in Greece is on the rise, particularly in the sectors of wholesale and retail commerce. But as a study by the Manpower Organization’s Employment Monitor – issued a few days ago – points out, the rise in employment in the small enterprise is brief and without prospects. Characteristically, only 11.3 percent of businesses employing between one and five people forecasts a rise in employment in the next three years. By contrast, 31.3 percent of large enterprises, employing more than 100 people, foresee an increase in hirings. The big firms, although in the minority in the private sector, continue to be those that create more and more lasting jobs.