ECONOMY

Retail jobs disappearing fast as downturn sets in

Figures from the Hellenic Statistics Authority (ELSTAT) highlight the deteriorating labor market conditions in retail trade, the only sector in the Greek economy that has been creating job positions up until now. According to figures from ELSTAT, the number of jobs available in retail trade in the first quarter of the year fell 2 percent in comparison to the same period a year earlier, while for the whole of 2009 the index was in positive territory. In the first three months of 2009, job positions in the retail sector grew by an annual pace of 3.9 percent despite the crisis having already made itself felt in Greece by that point. Employment positions appear to be vanishing at a fast pace. In the first quarter of 2010, employment fell 2.8 percent, compared with the last three months of 2009. Indicative of the difficult times is the large number of jobs being lost in the food sector, which normally shows more resilience during downturns. According to a forecast from the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), 100,000 business will reduce staff levels this year while another 65,000 are seen in the red due to outstanding loans. Data gathered from chambers of commerce across the country show that one new business opens for every two that close. The largest number of enterprises shutting down are located in Piraeus, along with Messenia and Laconia in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, among other areas.