The number of workers increased by 464,900 people in the second quarter of the year, which saw the end of the state of alarm and the progressive relaxation of restrictions against the pandemic thanks to the advance in vaccination. This is the second highest job creation data in the historical series in this period of the year, according to data from the Labor Force Survey (EPA) published this Thursday by the INE. Unemployment fell by 110,100 people compared to the previous quarter, leaving the total number of unemployed people at 3,543,800.
The rise in employment leaves the total number of workers at 19,671,700 people, already very close to the level of employed prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. In the last year, more than a million jobs have been recovered and there are only 133,300 fewer workers than in the second quarter of 2019, the last second quarter of the year before the shock caused in employment by the coronavirus.
The second quarter of the year is usually favorable for the labor market thanks to good weather, Easter and the start of the tourist season, among other factors, which are reflected in an increase in workers and a fall in unemployment. But last year the EPA left an unprecedented picture due to the coronavirus. Between the months of April and June 2020, marked by confinement by the pandemic, more than a million jobs were destroyed, an unprecedented amount in such a short period of time.
Although the pandemic is still with us, the context of the second quarter of 2021 is totally different, with the end of the state of alarm and the start of vaccination, which marked a new stage in the health crisis. The monthly data on unemployment and affiliation to Social Security, another different source to measure the evolution of employment, have been showing the acceleration of the recovery of employment during the months of April to June, driven by vaccination and the progressive elimination of restrictions against the virus.
Even so, the pandemic still marks the data for this second quarter, which began with a new wave of the virus, the fourth, which has been the least impactful of those that we have to date and which still keeps tourism weighed down, a key sector for Spain.
Drop in the unemployment rate to 15.26%
The drop in unemployment by 110,100 people is also reflected in the decrease in the unemployment rate, which fell to 15.26%, which is 72 hundredths less than in the previous quarter. The indicator has been falling for three quarters and leaves the maximum figure for this health crisis at an unemployment rate of 16.26%, far from the 27% of the last financial crisis.
In any case, it is important to note that the number of unemployed is still higher than at the beginning of the crisis due to the pandemic. In the last 12 months, unemployment has increased by 175,900 people (5.22%) and, compared to the second quarter of 2019 – the last prepandemic -, the increase is 313,200 more unemployed.
This health crisis has also been marked by the existence of a large number of people who have gone into inactivity: who were left without a job, but did not look for a new one, so that they do not appear in the unemployment figures. Good news for the second quarter of 2021 is the large number of people joined the activity, 354,800 people, up to a total of 23,215,500.
The growth of the active population explains why the drop in the unemployment rate is not greater, since unemployment falls significantly, but there are more people available to work.
“Even so, as a result of the pandemic, the number of inactive people available for work who are not looking for work continues to be high,” highlights the INE. In the second quarter of the year, there are still “913,900 people who have not been able to seek employment despite being available for work,” according to the EPA. “With this they have not met all the conditions that the ILO definition requires to be classified as unemployed,” recalls the INE. The figure has dropped a lot, by 182,300 people, compared to the previous quarter.