Labour market information

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Greece - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


According to the available seasonally adjusted data, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in terms of volume was decreased by 0.1% in Q4 2018 compared to Q3 2018, while compared to Q4 2017 it was increased by 1.6%.

During Q1 2018:

  • There were 3 833 745 people in employment and the number of jobseekers was 881 099.
  • The unemployment rate stood at 18.7%, compared to 18.3% in the previous quarter (Q3 2018) and 21.2% in the same quarter of the previous year (Q4 2017).
  • Employment decreased by 1.6% compared to the previous quarter and increased by 2.6% compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 1.1% compared to the previous quarter and decreased by 12.5% compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

The unemployment rate is highest among women, persons aged 15 to 19 years, in Western Macedonia and among people who have attended only a few years of elementary school. The highest employment rates are recorded in men, aged 30 to 44 years, in the South Aegean, among people who have completed post-secondary education and among foreign nationals.

Most of the employed are salaried employees (66.8%), and a large number are self-employed without staff (22.0%). As compared to the previous quarter, employment rates of people helping in the family business decreased significantly, whereas the rates of other categories also decreased. As compared to the previous year, employment rates decreased for the people helping in the family business and increased for the wage-earners and for the self-employed with staff. The part-time employment rate is 9.2%, while the temporary employment rate is 7.1%. Part-time employment appears to have increased over the previous quarter and slightly decreased compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Temporary employment has decreased compared to the previous quarter and has increased compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Most of the employed are employees in the services and sales sectors (23.1%), and professionals (19.6%). In comparison with the previous quarter, the highest decrease appears to unskilled workers, manual workers and elementary occupations, and the highest increase appears to senior management and management.

The largest percentage of the employed (46.0%) declared that they worked for 40-47 hours a week, and a large percentage (26.3%) declared that they worked for 48 or more hours a week. Most of the employed (85.0%) declared that they worked the normal working hours, while 10.2% declared that they wished to work longer hours. A rate of 2.2% state that they have a second job, while 2.1% are looking for a job although working.

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 refugee 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 (27.7% and 18.1%, respectively).

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.


Text last edited on: 07/2019

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