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EC Report – Greece: Unemployment, Income Losses, Poverty

Greece is going from bad to worse. That’s no news, but when it comes summarized through the official data from the European Union it is really impressive.  In its querterly report on employment and the social situation in the opean Union, the European Commission states that 370,000 jobs were lost in the first three quarters of 2011. In a country of roughly 11 million pupulation. In December 2011, unemployment hit record with 21 percent.

“Worst hit by unemployment in the country are medium-skilled workers (20.1 % against 8.7 %  in the EU27) and low-skilled workers (14.6 % against 5.7 %)”

“Long-term unemployment increased to 9.1% of the labour force (355 000 people) and accounts for half of the unemployed. As the economic outlook for 2012 remains pessimistic about labour market recovery, long-term unemployment is likely not to have peaked yet. Poverty among the unemployed is an issue, given that the maximum duration of unemployment benefit in Greece is 12 months and that unemployment benefit is subject to narrow eligibility conditions.”

“Doubling in youth unemployment, which ended at 45% in the third quarter of 2011 (48 percent in November 2011) – twice as high as two years ago – and their heavy contribution to the number of long-term unemployed. In the third quarter of 2011, some 45 percent of the unemployed aged 15 to 24 were long-term unemployed, against 30 percent two years earlier.”

Economy shrank 15% since the beginning of the crisis and recession is forecast to reach 4.7% in 2012 (-6.8% in 2011).

Minimum wages fell by 22% and 32% for young employees below 25 years old.

Income Loss, Poverty

Gross disposable household income decreased by 9.3 percent in 2010, with lower-income groups losing a significant proportion of their income. Households in the poorest 20 percent of the population lost an estimated 9 percent of their income, compared with 11 percent for households at the top end of the spectrum.

 The overall at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for the total population stood at 27.7 percent in 2010, higher than the EU27 average of 23.4 percent. The risk-of-poverty (income-poor) rate was 20.1 percent in 2010, following an increase from 19.7 percent in 2009, whereas the EU average is 16.4 percent. The risk of poverty for children (23 percent) is higher than the EU average which stood at 20.6 percent in 2010.

 The in-work poverty rate in Greece was the second highest in the EU in 2010, while the rate of severe material deprivation stood at 11.6 percent in Greece, whereas the EU27 average was 8.1 percent in 2010.

 The share of persons declaring that they were having great difficulty in making ends meet rose from 19 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2010 (and from 36 percent to 47 percent among those at risk of poverty).

The share of people with arrears (mortgage or rent, utility bills or hire purchase) rose from 26 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2010.

The share unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent every second day has risen to 8 percent of the population (6.5 percent in 2007).

Homelessness is estimated to have risen by 25% between 2009 and 2011. 

 The report highlighted low access to life-long learning in Greece, with just 3 percent of the population participating in education or training against 9 percent for the EU27 average. Participation for those aged 25-34 was 7 percent in Greece against 15 percent in the EU and dropped to just 0.5 percent for those aged 55-64 versus 4.5 percent in the EU.

And this reminds of the “life-long learning” of  Mr. Kostas, 60 years old, married, two children. Unemployed since 4 years, needs to be 65 to get his retirement. He has been involved in the life-long learning government programme. He works as trainee at a big super-market chain. 6 hours per day, 6 days per week. Income? A big fat ZERO! He even pays from his own pocket the transport tickets to his work. Mr. Kostas has the chance to get a 3-month contract after he concludes his training as super-market salesman. With the minimum wage of 580 euro gross, as he will be considered a newcomer in the sector.

Greek statistics do not consider Trainee Mr. Kostas -and other Misters and Misses- as ‘unemployed’, of course. Life-long learning programmes ‘fix’ lower the unemployment rates, even if Mr Kostas and the ‘learners’ like him have zero income.

Read the Euopean Commission’s Full Report Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review: The number of jobless rises and social concerns persist


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