Last week Greece reported the first monthly fall in its unemployment rate since May 2008. According to the “Economist”, although the rate stands at 26.4% for December, more than double the euro-area average, other indicators from Greece hint at the possibility of a turnaround in the jobs market. In the same month seasonally adjusted employment jumped 40,000, suggesting that the improving unemployment rate is not just down to job-seekers giving up.
In addition, the latest numbers on firms’ hiring intentions show fewer companies plan to fire staff and more expect to hire, according to ManpowerGroup, a recruitment consultancy. Parts of Greece’s economy have become more competitive, with earnings dropping almost 30% from peak. Ireland is in the same boat.
There unemployment rates have edged down 0.4 percentage points from peak of 15.1%. Wages are adjusting and employers are more positive, too. In Spain and Italy, however, (ManpowerGroup do not cover Portugal) wages have increased steadily, keeping their economies uncompetitive.
Employers in both economies remain more keen to fire and less willing to hire than they were a year ago. Many workers on the European periphery are still waiting for a turnaround.