Recovery? Eurostat Says 33% of Greeks Still Facing Poverty

The National Herald

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Sotiris Dimitropoulos, file)

While Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he's brought recovery to Greece after reneging on anti-austerity promises, any real benefits haven't trickled down with the European Commission statistics agency Eurostat saying one in three face the risk of poverty or social exclusion.

That's based on criteria of households where incomes are less than 60 percent of the national average or where no member has a full-time job and where occupants struggle to cover their basic needs. Eurostat found that 34.8 percent of the Greek population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion last year compared to 28.1 percent in the EU. In Greece, 20.2 percent of the population was deemed to be living in poverty compared to 16.9 percent in the EU.

That was in line with a June report that put 34.8 percent of Greeks, some 3.7 million people, at risk of poverty or social exclusion, a 2017 survey on household incomes and living conditions by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

That was down slight compared to 2016 when the figure was 35.6 percent, relatively imperceptible unless you were one of those affected by an onslaught of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, and worker firings imposed by successive governments.

The threat of a life at risk was greater among people of working age (18-64), at some 38.6 percent, with Greece still having the highest unemployment rate in the European Union. Those worst off were foreigners 18-64, at 62.9 percent.

The poverty threshold was set at 4,560 euros ($5320) per person and at 9,576 euros ($11,1730 per household with two adults and two children under the age of 14. Households at risk of poverty or social exclusion numbered 789,585, out of a total of 4,162,442 households in Greece.

Without welfare payments and social benefits, 50.8 percent of the country’s population would be deemed at risk of poverty, showing the valuable impact of pensions and social handouts even as Tsipras continued to slash pensions and whack low-and-moderate income families with coming new taxes after he said he wouldn’t.