Wednesday, May 18

Spain closed 2021 with an unemployment rate of 13.3%, its lowest level since 2008


  • Spain recovers the number of employed prior to covid, but fewer hours are still worked due to the incidence of furloughs and sick leave

  • Catalonia created 1.5 times more employment than Madrid in the last year and is the second autonomous region that generates the most employment

Spain definitively stitched up a large part of the wounds that, in the workplace, it was dragging from the two economic crises that it has chained in the last decade. the of the covid and that of the real estate and financial bubbles. The unemployment closed last year at its lowest level since 2008 and the job went the other way and stood at its best record since the executives of Lehman Brothers they had to pack their things in cardboard boxes. The data from the Active Population Survey (EPA) published this Thursday show a working market Spain that begins 2022 with record records, although also with a high temporality, a partial affectation of first Y low covid and a number of households where all its members are unemployed that exceeds one million throughout the country.

The working market closed 2021 with a strong push that the latest waves of the pandemic have failed to stop. The unemployment rate fell to 13,33% in the last quarter of the year, its lowest figure since the end of 2008. And it is that the number of unemployed decreased by 615,900 people in the past year, reaching 3.1 million unemployed.

For its part, employment gained 153,900 employees and ended the year above the level of 20 million active workers, specifically at 20.1 million, its highest level also since 2008. And it is that in the last year A total of 840,600 jobs have been created and consolidated, its best record of available statistics. In quantities, 2021 has been a year that is difficult to overcome, but, nevertheless, the EPA casts nuances on the origin and quality of said employment.

The private sector is not yet recovered

If the Spanish labor market has recovered and exceeded the levels of employment prior to covid, it is explained, in part, by the extraordinary effort made by the Administration, both in aid and in hiring. Well, the fourth quarter of 2021 Spain closed it with 4,200 less employed in the private sector than in 2019 and 264,300 fewer than in 2008. The positive note of the growth in registered employment is that it is just as intense for men and women, unlike previous crises.

And although Spain has recovered the volumes of employment prior to the coronavirus, this has not been the case with regard to hours worked. That is to say, there are more employed persons, but the activity and effective hours of work that they carry out is, on the whole, lower. Synonymous with the fact that the economy is still not at the same levels as before the virus. The data published this Thursday shows that effective working hours are on the rise, but they are still 3.8% lower than at the end of 2019.

The high doses of temporality continue to characterize employment in Spain, being the highest in Europe. At the end of 2021, one in four employees in Spain had a temporary contract (25.4%). Although temporary employment has been reduced during the covid crisis and is currently lower than in the last quarter of 2019 (26.1%), it is still the highest in the European Union. The main purpose of the labor reform agreed between the Government, the employers and the unions -and which still has to pass the process of Congress- is to reduce this high turnover and its success or failure will depend on the numbers that subsequent EPAs throw up.

In 1 million households no payroll enters

Although in absolute terms the Spanish labor market is better than it was before the Great Recession, there are two indicators that persist in pointing out two unsewn wounds. And it is that the crisis of 2008 unraveled the professional careers of thousands of people and many of them have not been able to remake them. Of the 3.1 million unemployed at the end of 2021, almost half (48.2%) had been looking for work for more than a year without finding it. They are what is known as long-term unemployed and that in 2008 they represented ‘only’ 21.3% of the total number of unemployed. And a large part of them are people over 50 years of age, among whom long-term unemployment is 64.6%.

The chronification of unemployment – entering and not being able to get out of it – is often linked to the fact that no income enters a household. That figure of the father of the family who was the only source of income in his house and was laid off during the financial crisis. Or the multiple current realities of single-parent families, single mothers or different realities that coincide in the statistics that in Spain there are 1.09 million households where all its members are unemployed. And in half of which no income comes in. A figure that has been reduced in the last year but is still higher than that of 2008.

Catalonia creates 1.5 times more busy than Madrid

Catalonia has followed during the last year the line of growth marked at the level of the whole of Spain. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, it has created 157,500 new jobs, up to a total of 3.49 million active Catalans. It is its highest level of employment since 2008. The vigor of this growth has not been the same in all the territories and, in absolute terms, Catalonia has created 1.5 times more employment than the Madrid’s community, the other great economic locomotive of the State. And it is that Catalonia was the second autonomy that created the most employment, only surpassed by Andalusia. In relative terms it was Canary Islands the region with the busiest in 2021.

Related news

The return to the ‘2008’ box is repeated in the Catalan case with regard to unemployment. This was reduced in the last year by 142,500 people, to a total of 395,400 unemployed throughout Catalonia. Which leaves the Catalan unemployment rate in the 10,2%, three points below the Spanish. Catalonia was the autonomy that reduced the most unemployed, ahead of Madrid and Andalusia.



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