A high percentage of unemployed persons appear to have worked in the past in businesses involved in wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, processing and accommodation and food service activities. Moreover, economic collapse dealt a severe blow to occupations linked to the construction sector. As a result, the occupations that have suffered most are those employing unskilled workers and technologists and technicians. The high number of businesses that have folded due to the severe, six-year-long crisis has made a lot of people redundant. Office workers and personal services workers (hairdressers, cooks, waiters, etc.), shop sales staff, domestic workers and cleaners are all occupations that have suffered. There are far more unemployed women in the above occupations than unemployed men.
Moreover, it is important to note that the highest rate of unemployment is to be found among those who have never attended school (52.5 %). The lowest rates are to be found among those who have a PhD or a post-graduate degree (11.9 %) and among higher education graduates (18.5 %).
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According to national registered vacancies data, the highest demand is for workers in wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and, to a lesser degree, accommodation and food service activities. As regards job vacancies, processing, transport and storage (logistics) and professional, scientific and technical activities are experiencing growth. According to data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority, there were 52 484 job vacancies throughout Greece in the second quarter of 2015.
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Based on revised figures, the gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices fell by 1.3 % in 2015 from the previous year, compared to the 0.9 % decrease first estimated in March 2016.
In the fourth quarter of 2015 there were 3 702 613 people in employment, and the number of job-seekers was 1 112 075. The unemployment rate stood at 23.1 % compared to 24.9 % in the previous quarter and 24.6 % in the same quarter of 2015. Employment increased by 2.7 % over the previous quarter and by 32.1 % compared to the second quarter of 2015. The number of unemployed persons fell by 6.9 % compared to the previous quarter and by 5.8 % compared to the second quarter of 2015.
Unemployment is significantly higher among women (27.6 %) than among men (19.4 %). The unemployment rate is highest among young people aged 15 to 24 (49.1 %), with the figure for young unemployed women reaching 52.5 %.
In contrast with other EU countries, most employment is full time despite the statutory introduction of flexible forms of employment. Part-time workers account for 9.8 % of total employment. Of these part-time workers, 69.7 % made this choice because they were unable to find full-time employment, 8.2 % for other personal or family reasons, 4.8 % for training purposes, 1.7 % because they look after small children or dependent adults and 15.6 % for various other reasons. The percentage of salaried employees, which is estimated at 65.9 % (diagram 3), is still lower than the EU average, which stands at 83.9 % of all workers.
According to the 2011 census, the population of Greece is approximately 10.8 million. It is estimated that there were over one million foreign immigrants working in Greece before the crisis. However, after a few years foreign workers and their families started to leave due to the slump in the labour market and in particular in the building industry. The latest official figures show that over the five-year recession (2009-2013), 33 % of jobs held by foreigners were lost. According to recent ELSTAT figures, there are 567 669 immigrants residing legally in Greece, 75-80 % of whom are believed to be economically active.
Furthermore, during the last few years Greece has been particularly hard hit by the refugee crisis due to its geographical situation on the route most frequently used by refugees. According to European Commission estimates, 276 113 refugees entered the EU illegally, and a great many of them used Greece as a point of entry. This places a heavy burden on the Greek economy and adversely affects tourism on the Greek islands. According to press reports, more than 4 million migrants entered Greece illegally during the peak years of the refuge crisis, although most of them quickly moved on to other EU countries.
Immigration legislation, as codified by Law 4251/2014, lays down the conditions for employing foreign workers lawfully and protects their employment and insurance rights. The objective is to integrate migrants into the labour force smoothly on the basis of lawful employment and to open up positive prospects both for them and for the Greek economy, and Greek society in general.
Labour mobility in Greece is limited compared to other European countries. This is due to the exceptionally high rate of home ownership (80 %) and to social and cultural factors in which immediate and wider family connections play an important role and constitute an informal but exceptionally strong network of social protection. It is also due to the fact that the unemployment rate is higher among foreigners living in Greece than among Greek nationals (30.8 % and 23.9 %, respectively). Moreover, 71.3 % of foreign nationals are economically active, which is significantly higher than the figure for Greeks, which is 51.1 %.
Most businesses (over 80 %) are small in terms of turnover (up to EUR 150 000). The figure for the average number of jobs provided per business also points to the predominance of small businesses: over 85% of businesses have no more than five employees.
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Top 10 of the most required occupations in Greece
1. Legal and related associate professionals (ISCO 3411)
2. Plant and machine operators and assemblers (ISCO 8)
3. Craft and related trades workers (ISCO 7)
4. Bus and tram drivers (ISCO 8331)
5. Clerical support workers (ISCO 4)
6. Finance professionals (ISCO 241)
7. Plumbers and pipe fitters (ISCO 7126)
8. Building and related electricians (ISCO 7411)
9. Information and communications technology professionals (ISCO 25)
10. Tree and shrub crop growers (ISCO 6112)