According to the European Commission’s quarterly review on Employment and Social Situation, Greece is the poorest country in the European Union for 2013.
The review mentions that Greeks, despite working the longest hours in Europe, earn the lowest salaries. In 2008 to 2013, the real Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) declined 14.8% in Greece, the second highest percentage in the EU after Ireland (-16%). The main reason for the decline was tax increases, pension reductions and the limited impact of social protection expenditure. In addition, Greece’s youth unemployment rate is the highest among EU’s member States.
The report showed that the biggest at-risk-of-poverty rate recorded in Greece was between 2011-13. In 2013, poverty affected 23.7 percent of the population, an increase of 1.8 percent compared with 2011, followed by Romania, with a 1.1 percent increase and poverty at 21.2 percent, Latvia with a 0.9 percent increase and poverty at 21.4 percent and Spain with a 0.7 percent increase and poverty at 20.9 percent.
According to the European Commission review, the rate of growth of nominal unit labor costs in 2013, recorded the biggest decline in Cyprus (-5.4 percent) and Greece (-4.7 percent), while the Greeks work more hours a week (43.7 hours per week) compared with the rest of the Europeans. The Polish come second with 42.5 hours, followed by Cypriots with 42.4 hours, Portuguese with 42.2 hours and Austrians with 42.15 hours. Finns (39.7), Hungarians (39.8) and the French (40) are those who work less.
In January 2014, a total of 3.1 million young people, aged 15-24, were struck by unemployment in the EU.
Commenting on the review, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor said that “inequalities have risen and there is a risk that the current fragile recovery is not likely to improve the situation of many low-income groups.”