As the Greek government is frantically trying to create more jobs to reverse an unemployment rate of 26 percent, numbers from the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT show a more troubling problem: more than six out of every 10 jobless people in Greece have been out of work for over a year and their meager benefits have run out, leaving them with zero income and virtually no prospect of finding a job, perhaps ever again.
Fourth-quarter figures for 2012 put the unemployment rate at 26 percent, from 24.8 percent in the previous quarter and 20.7 percent a year earlier. The jobless number reached 1,295,535, with 65.3 percent having been without work for more than 12 months.
Still, the reduction in employment amounted to less than 1.5 percent compared with the previous quarter and 6.4 percent compared with the October-December period in 2011. But between those recorded as being without work and those whose benefits have run out, there are as many as 2 million people in Greece without a job.
“What is particularly worrisome is long-term unemployment,” Angelos Tsakanikas, an economist at think tank IOBE, which projects joblessness will hit 27.3 percent this year, told Reuters. “More than 60 percent of the unemployed in Greece are without work for more than 12 months compared to about 48 percent in the euro zone. Long-term unemployment affects skills,” he said.
The jobless rate is even higher among foreign nationals in Greece, amounting to 36.9 percent, even though the rate of financially active foreigners is considerably higher than that of Greeks. Rates remain particularly high among people aged up to 24 years (57.8 percent) and in the most productive age group, 29-44 (32.2 percent). Women are the hardest hit, with 29.7 percent being out of work.
The tertiary or service sector remains the most important employment pillar, accounting for 70.5 percent of jobs. The secondary sector, concerning manufacturing, takes a 16.3 percent share, while the primary sector has no more than 13.2 percent of jobs in Greece, or just over one in eight, ELSTAT data showed.