Despite the prevailing myth that sees Greek workers as lazy and trying to avoid work at all cost, the annual OECD Employment Outlook report can confirm that Greeks are among the hardest-working population in the world. Greece ranked fourth in the world in terms of average annual hours actually worked in 2016, with 2,026 hours per worker, lagging behind Mexico (2,228 hours/worker), Costa Rica (2,210 hours) and Korea (2,124 hours). By comparison, Australian workers put in 1,664 hours of work, well below the OECD average of 1,763 hours per worker, while Germany ranked last with just 1,366 hours.

For those unfamiliar with the ‘annual hours worked concept’, the OECD website offers this explanation: “Average annual hours worked is defined as the total number of hours actually worked per year divided by the average number of people in employment per year. Actual hours worked include regular work hours of full-time, part-time and part-year workers, paid and unpaid overtime, hours worked in additional jobs, and exclude time not worked because of public holidays, annual paid leave, own illness, injury and temporary disability, maternity leave, parental leave, schooling or training, slack work for technical or economic reasons, strike or labour dispute, bad weather, compensation leave and other reasons.”

The annual OECD survey features other interesting data, regarding employment in Greece and around the world. It is telling of Greece’s plight, for instance, that it ranks second in the world in self-employment, as 36.9 per cent of the workforce comprises the self-employed (Colombia ranks first with a staggering 52.6 per cent).

Another interesting aspect of the current state of employment in Greece is the fact that the country shows very low levels of part-time employment, only 10.3 per cent of the workforce, compared to 24.9 per cent in Australia, which ranks third, after the Netherlands (38.5 per cent) and Switzerland (26.4 per cent).

In terms of employment according to level of education, 54.4 per cent of 25 to 64-year- olds with tertiary education are employed (compared to 77.7 in Australia), 69.1 per cent of those with upper-secondary education (83.5 in Australia) and 45.2 per cent of the workers with below-secondary-level education (60.3 in Australia).

Employment rate by age group is another interesting aspect of the survey. Greece ranks third from last in terms of employment for people aged 25 to 54 (who are in their prime working lives), with 62.7 per cent, above South Africa (57.2 per cent) and Turkey (58.8), well below the OECD total of 76 per cent (78.7 in Australia).

The same trend is reflected in the other two age groups. Among those aged 55 to 64 (those passing the peak of their career and approaching retirement), only 33.8 per cent are employed in Greece (outranked only by Turkey with 31.6 per cent). The OECD total is 57.5 per cent and Australia ranks above it with 62.1 per cent.

But the most alarming trend is regarding the 15-24 age group, those just entering the labour market: Australia ranks fourth with 57.5 per cent, following Ireland (69.7 per cent), Switzerland (60.9 per cent) and the Netherlands (58.7 per cent). The OECD total is 39.7 per cent; Greece ranks second to last with 14.1 per cent, following South Africa (12.2 per cent).