• REMEMBER THAT NUMBERS ARE PEOPLE LOOK FOR COCK-UP BEFORE CONSPIRACY • ALWAYS CITE PRIMARY SOURCES


Saturday, 19 November 2011

TEH COUNTDOWN BEGINS

Veteran readers will know that I have some personal favourites among the ELSTAT data series - headline figures like GDP and, to a lesser extent, unemployment, are highly political and the temptation to game them must be very high. Other, more humble statistics on the other hand are cleaner and much more meaningful, even if they are a little noisy due to small samples.

My personal favourite is the percentage of unemployed people who had job offers but turned them down. You can check out a much more detailed discussion of this variable here, but basically this is a very rich statistic as it incorporates people's expectations about the future and their attitudes towards work.

This number peaked in mid 2006, the height of the 'good days', when 15.8% of all unemployed people were made a job offer but turned it down for one reason or another. Since then it's been falling steadily, especially since Q3 2009 when the Greek fiscal crisis started in earnest. Well the latest figures from ELSTAT say this number has fallen to a record low of 6.7%.


In itself, this means very little. But as you'll recall, I've modelled this variable as a function of unemployment and future GDP (and the prospect of elections) and this is the first time since 2007 that the 'workshy' are a smaller percentage of the unemployed than unemployment alone would justify. This could mean one of three things:
  • A permanent shift in in the attitudes of Greek workers (probably a good thing)
  • There are no workshy any more - everything is friction unemployment. People are actually taking any job can find unless this is physically impossible or absolutely unacceptable.
  • A strong expectation that economic conditions will deteriorate significantly.
 UPDATE COMING SOON