Joblessness in sharper focus

A total of 523,843 people, or 11.2 percent of Greece’s work force, were unemployed in the first quarter of this year, according to new, updated data released yesterday by the National Statistics Service (NSS). The NSS report indicated that immigrants enjoyed a slightly better rate of employment than Greeks and that women, especially those aged under 29, had the most trouble finding a job. At the same time, NSS Secretary-General Manolis Kontopyrakis said that – judging by the results of the 2001 census and Greece’s low birthrate – in 30 years’ time the country’s native Greek population will only number 7 million, down from about 10 million now. The unemployment data released yesterday was the first calculated according to a new, more accurate system that takes into account the 2001 census – as opposed to the 1991 population figures used until the end of 2003. As such, the 11.2 percent figure cannot be compared with the previous figures – 10 percent in the first quarter of 2003 and 9.5 percent in the last quarter of 2003 – which were based on a different system of calculation. The first truly accurate snapshot of Greek unemployment in years revealed that unemployment is over twice as high (16.8 percent) among women as among men (7.3 percent). The NSS report showed that women aged 15-29 suffered a 28 percent unemployment rate, much higher than the male equivalent of 21.3 percent. Furthermore, the overall unemployment level among immigrant workers is 0.6 percent lower than the corresponding figure for Greeks.