GSEVEE sees 100,000 jobs at risk

About 100,000 jobs in small businesses are at risk of being lost by the end of the year due to the economic downturn, possibly pushing Greece’s jobless numbers to more than half a million, according to survey results made public yesterday. The General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE), an employer group representing small to medium-sized businesses, commissioned a study which found that one in five businesses is planning a head-count reduction in the next six months. «By the end of the year 90,000 to 100,000 job positions will be at risk, according to the most moderate scenario,» GSEVEE said in a statement. «This data… show the last step awaiting small businesses before they close their doors for good.» A significant drop in demand for goods and services reported by 72 percent of businesses indicates the recessionary environment which the businesses are operating, added GSEVEE. Jobless numbers in Greece have been continually rising as the economy slows and is likely to contract in 2009 in its first recession in 16 years. Unemployment rose to 8.5 percent in May from 6.6 percent in the same period a year earlier, with the number of people looking for employment reaching 420,401, according to figures from the National Statistical Service. The national jobless rate is seen averaging 9.5 percent for the year, according to think tank IOBE. GSEVEE’s study, for the May to August period, also said three in four businesses reported cash problems, forcing them to increase the use of postdated checks. Liquidity problems among small businesses are also reflected in bank data presented earlier this month showing that bad checks in the first seven months of the year hit almost 2 billion euros, or about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product, rising more than threefold from last year’s levels. [email protected]