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A 'sign' of the Greek economy

Alkis Konstantinidis / EPA

An empty billboard along the main road that encircles the city of Athens, April 3.

Alkis Konstantinidis / EPA

Empty billboards line a suburban street of Thessaloniki, Greece, March 3.

Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

Empty billboards on a main traffic street of Athens, Greece, March 27.

Alkis Konstantinidis / EPA

An empty advertising billboard int the suburbs of Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, March 3.

 

By European PressPhoto Agency -- Just as ancient temples remind humanity of the once great Greek Empire, empty billboards represent Greece’s current situation. They can now be easily found in Greece’s capital, Athens. They are ragged and empty, or else carrying posters so old that the sun has bleached them illegible. 

At the moment, it is not known if there are plans to remove them so they remain, in a way, monuments of the past, and the message is the absence of message. 

As turnover in retail trade has dropped by 54.6 per cent since 2009, the advertising companies that own the billboards have suffered greatly from the economic crisis, and in their attempts to reduce operational costs, have slashed their advertising expenses. Data of the Hellenic Statistical Authority show that in the first six months of 2012, the reduction in advertising expenses in total dropped by 29.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, a year in which turnover had already been reduced by 15.5 per cent in comparison to 2010. Thousands of employees in the sector are among the 26.5 per cent of the Greeks who are unemployed, while those who are still employed are experiencing harrowing labor conditions, often without complaint, as advertising is one of those sectors that is not represented by its own union.

Editor's note: Photos were taken in March and April, but made available to NBC News today.