Low-Paid Greeks Finally Got Raises in 2023, Construction Workers Lead Way

March 20, 2024

ATHENS – Among the lowest-paid workers in the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA), with an average income of €24,371.27 ($26,482), Greek workers in 2023 received some raises, despite the public sector being constrained during the 2010-2018 economic and austerity crisis.

A review by the country’s statistics agency, ELSTAT, revealed significant increases in construction wages but not for those in the tourism sector. This sector, at its peak, employed nearly a million people but experienced a workforce exodus post-pandemic as individuals sought better-paying opportunities.

The ELSTAT index for wages and salaries showed annual increases of 3.8-24.7% across various sectors for 2023 compared to 2022, when COVID-19 health restrictions were lifted to attract tourists—a strategy that succeeded, according to the business paper Imerisia.

Most sectors of the economy saw pay hikes, some in double digits, as the economy rebounded more swiftly from the financial crisis and pandemic, buoyed by tourism and the New Democracy government’s success in attracting more foreign investors.

In the tourism sector, both the hours worked and the number of employees declined, as hotels, restaurants, tavernas, and others couldn’t find sufficient staff, dropping 18.6% and 19.5% respectively. This labor shortage is expected to persist even as the sector expands.

The ELSTAT report noted that job shortages in the fourth quarter of 2023 neared an all-time high at 38,111, the most since the first quarter of 2013, when the crisis neared its peak at 41,545.

From the fourth quarter of 2022 to the fourth quarter of 2023, job vacancies surged by 82%, marking a 180-degree turnaround from the years of crisis that led to record unemployment, particularly among the youth, and prompted tens of thousands to leave the country in search of employment.


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