Four in 10 firms to reduce staff

Four in 10 employers are taking a second look at the size of their payrolls due to the financial crisis, which is hurting the majority of businesses in the economy, according to survey results made public yesterday. The survey, commissioned by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), found that 41.7 percent of respondents intend to reduce their staff numbers or «are likely» to go ahead with a reduction in employees. The figure stood at 38.4 percent in December last year. Conditions in Greece’s labor market have been deteriorating under the weight of the crisis. Recent data from the National Statistics Service (NSS) showed that the country’s jobless figure in December rose to 8.9 percent from 7.8 percent in November as the economy cools to its slowest pace since the country joined the eurozone. The eurozone jobless rate stood at 8.1 percent for the same period. Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou pointed out that Greece has single-digit unemployment figures at a time where it is above 10 percent in other countries. «By being absolutely honest, I tell you today that the situation in the Greek economy is under control,» he told a meeting of industrialists in Thessaloniki late yesterday. «[But] tough times are ahead of us,» he added. EBEA’s study also found that almost 52 percent of businesses have seen demand for their products or services fall from «just a bit to a lot» versus 53 percent in December last year. Eleven percent of those polled said they have yet to feel any impact from the crisis. The survey also concluded that just over 38,000 businesses are ready to shut down, while another 250,871 are unable or finding it difficult to meet their cash flow needs. The total number of businesses used by the survey to reach its conclusions was not clear. The study questioned 635 businesses between March 11 and 26.

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