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Cost of living soars in Greece despite economic recovery

Cost of living soars in Greece despite economic recovery

Greece has outpaced most European economies in the past years, but why can't citizens afford basic goods, and why are employers short of staff?

High growth, debt reduction, and increasing investments: Greece’s economy has performed strongly in the past two years, outpacing most European countries. Greece is no longer the “black sheep” of the European family, but rather a success story of reform and recovery.

Experts, both within the country and abroad, say even better days lie ahead.

“There are good reasons for the Greek economy to outperform the Eurozone in the next 3–5 years," said Chief Economist at Eurobank, Tasos Anastasatos.

Greece's GDP grew 8.4% in 2021 and 5.2% in the 4th quarter of 2022.

"Among them are the large package of grants and loans from the EU Resilience and Recovery Fund, the country's good reputation, especially in tourism, and the abundant liquidity of the banking system.”

Numbers thrive in Greece, but as it is often the case in economics, the situation on the ground is quite different.

Personal trainer Antonia Kalantzi, 38, shops at a grocery store in Athens, Greece, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.

Real wages, or nominal wages after deducting inflation, have not followed a similar path. In many cases, they have fallen due to continuous price hikes.

Inflation in Greece in 2022 sat at 9.3%.

This situation is also reflected in the labour market. More and more employers say that they are finding it difficult to recruit staff as workers feel that wages are not high enough. Thousands of jobs remain vacant in critical sectors for the Greek economy such as food services, tourism, and construction.

Unemployment in Greece in 2022 sat at 11%.

At the same time, Greek consumers are forced to cut their purchases of basic goods to deal with the wave of continuous price hikes.

“Let’s be honest, we have cut some of our shopping. We buy less stuff. I used to buy four kilos of fruit, now I buy two or one. And our shopping is limited to just food, we don't buy anything else,” said Evangelia, who lives off her pension.

People reach out for fresh produce handouts from fruit and vegetable street market stall holders during a peaceful protest outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Athens.

“Our sales have decreased significantly, I don't know why, but people cannot afford to buy even basic goods”, said Giorgos, a vendor at the farmer's market.

With elections on the horizon, Greek citizens say that inflation is their main concern and will influence their decision on which party to vote for.


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