Migrants fuel boost in jobs, economy

While the government pushes through an amendment that will legalize more immigrant workers, a study showed yesterday that migrants contribute about 1.5 percent to Greece’s economic output every year and help create 115,000 new jobs. The report, prepared by the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), said that the entry of migrants into the labor market also helps increase tax revenues and contributions to social security funds. The survey examines the economic impact of various scenarios involving migrants in Greece, including what would happen if all of them stopped buying consumer goods or if the flow of newcomers to Greece dropped sharply. If migrants were no longer consumers, economic growth would drop 1.5 percent annually and Greeks would lose some 100,000 jobs, the study showed. Meanwhile, an influx of 200,000 foreigners would increase the gross domestic product by about 0.7 percent and reduce prices by 2 percent, IMEPO said. Thus, the idea that immigrants have pushed up the country’s unemployment is a myth, IMEPO added. But views on immigration’s impact on Greece’s economy remain mixed. Some economists believe that immigrants create an excessively large strain on state services such as healthcare. Many immigrants in Greece are uninsured because they work for employers who refuse to pay for their healthcare and offer only under-the-table cash for their labor – an illegal but widespread practice. Industry data show that nearly one in three female immigrants working in Greece is uninsured and many are exploited by their employers. In the meantime, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said yesterday a parliamentary committee gave the green light to an amendment that would legalize around 100,000 illegal immigrants. This is in addition to the 180,000 migrants who applied for legal status under the 2005 law. Around 870,000 migrants have settled in Greece since 1991.

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