Thursday, 12 December 2013

Greece's labour market: are we scraping around the bottom here...?

We Greeks are living through a phenomenal depression these past 4 years. What’s more we are being bombarded by the mainstream media with their “perceptions” of the reality that we are living in and their (or those of various “experts” they have as guests) “predictions” of what the future holds for Greece. 

Then there are data but they are rarely featured in the majority of mainstream media (there are some very notable exceptions here), since there are other ingredients that make for much more appealing content.
I would like to share with you a couple (or rather a few) of charts, based on ELSTAT’s seasonally adjusted data regarding Greece’s labour market.

As we widely read or hear in mainstream media, unemployment is still creeping up.

Here is the unemployment rate

source: ELSTAT

and here is the number of unemployed persons.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

In the charts above one can see that the unemployment rate has more or less stalled and the number of unemployed persons is creeping up, though at a much slower pace than the three previous years.

Now I want us to look at a chart concerning the evolution of employed persons.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

As you can see, in 2013, the number of employed persons has edged up marginally. By year-end it is possible this line could have gone flat or dipped (slightly) below 100. But this year’s picture is wholly different than those of the previous three.

One could think, how is it possible that unemployment and employment (albeit marginally) are increasing at the same time?

The answer is that the labour force has grown in 2013, something in itself relatively upbeat.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

Do these charts portray a rosy picture of Greece’s economy? Not at all.

Do they send out the message that we may be nearing the bottom? In my humble opinion, they could be, but with some considerable downside risks attched. Now, I won't go into what those risks are but the brave souls that have been checking this blog in the past know, more or less, what I consider these to be.

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