Collapse of the job market and its repercussions

The collapse of the market and the massive reduction in employment positions in the past three years are the main factors to have contributed to the spike in Greek unemployment. Neither the reduction of the minimum wage to 426 euros a month nor the abolition of severance pay for one-year contracts managed to slow down the unemployment rate among people aged up to 24, which hit 53.8 percent (or 165,000 people) in the first four months of 2012. Meanwhile, in the up-to-34 age group, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) published figures suggesting that one-third are unemployed.

Before 2008, around half of the 80,000 people that entered the job market every year on average managed to find some kind of employment. This is clearly not the case today, as in 2011 alone 451,000 people were fired, meaning that more jobs were lost in 2009-11 than were created in 2008.

After 2008, some 2 percent more people entered the employment market every year, and most have to wait a lot longer to find a job, whether in Greece or abroad, as the demand in other countries is mostly limited to specialized workers.

Meanwhile, the idea of work that corresponds to skill has been all but eclipsed, as young engineers take to driving taxis, actors and musicians wait on tables, doctors are forced to immigrate and a few fortunate graduates decide to buy themselves a bit more time by pursuing further studies.

The new generation trying to get a foot in the door of the job market are mostly bewildered by the lack of opportunities, and this can often lead to resignation or even depression, which is no longer limited to middle-aged job seekers, but very much a part of life for young people who simply cannot come to terms with unemployment.

Young people who have no other qualifications than a high-school certificate are in an even worse position as jobs in commerce as well as administrative or secretarial posts are not only increasingly hard to come by but are often filled by overqualified applicants.

The pressure felt by unskilled workers to find any job, even one which affords them very little money and few benefits, also leads them to professional and social marginalization, and possibly even to crime as a means of survival, according to studies.

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