Wednesday, May 18

Unemployment only fell by 2,921 people in March marked by the invasion of Ukraine and the transport strike

Employment increased in March and unemployment fell (albeit timidly), in a month marked by the war in Ukraine and the strike in the transport sector. The labor market added an average of 140,232 workers to Social Security, a figure similar to that of past years, while the number of unemployed people decreased very little for the usual levels of March: only 2,921 people. In seasonally adjusted terms, employment added some 24,000 affiliated workers, but unemployment increased by 25,682 people.

The figures, published this Monday by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, leave a total of 19,834,504 affiliated workers and unemployment with hardly any changes, at 3,108,763 people signed up for the SEPE offices. Among the most outstanding data is also the progressive increase in permanent contracts after the approval of the labor reform, which in March reached a record 30% of the contracts signed.

The Ministry of Social Security, led by José Luis Escrivá, highlights “different stages” in the growth of employment in March. In just under “the first half of the month, strong growth was recorded,” he says, “beating the average of previous years in most sectors.”

Later, starting on the 11th and especially on the 14th, “coinciding with various strikes” in activities such as transport, “there was a slight slowdown in some sectors (transport, manufacturing or construction), which showed a slower growth rate than they usually register in March”.

Finally, “in the last week of the month, there has been a recovery in these sectors and, with it, in employment as a whole, until a behavior very similar to that of the years prior to the pandemic has been recovered,” highlights the Ministry, which which leaves the average number of affiliates similar to those of other years, with some 140,000 more affiliates.

If you look at what has happened in the last year, there is intense job creation: almost a million workers have joined the labor market, with 913,602 more people affiliated with Social Security on average. It is noteworthy that the interannual rate of employment growth accelerated in March to 4.8% compared to 4.5% the previous month.

timid drop in unemployment

On the other hand, the unemployment data is less favorable for a month of March, which tends to pull employment with good weather and sometimes (not this year) with Easter. It can be seen if we look at the figures for previous years and the declines in unemployment that had been taking place. Also the behavior of certain sectors, such as industry.

The fall in registered unemployment of 2,921 people (-0.09% monthly reduction) this March is quite far from the decreases of 59,149 (-1.48%) last year, in 33,956 people (-1.03%) in 2019 , at 47,697 (-1.37%) in 2018 and at 48,559 (-1.29%) in 2017, for example.

By economic sectors, in the month of March unemployment fell in Services by 18,090 people (-0.82%) and rose among the group Without Previous Employment, by 6,764 people (2.71%); in Construction, in 5,664 people (2.33%); in Agriculture, by 1,568 people (1.01%) and in Industry, where unemployment grew by 1,173 people (0.46%). Of these data, industry stands out above all, a sector affected by the crisis in energy prices, supplies and the strike of carriers, where unemployment increased one month in which it usually fell.

By sex, female unemployment decreased by 9,219 women (-0.50%) to a total of 1,831,428 registered unemployed, while male unemployment increased by 6,298 people (0.50%), to 1,277,335 registered unemployed .

If we look at how the reduction in unemployment evolves in year-on-year terms, which takes into account the previous twelve months, we observe that this March the rate that we had been accumulating in previous months has been interrupted. Unemployment fell by 840,877 people in this period, a drop of 21.3%. In February, the year-on-year decrease was 22.4%, after ten months in which the fall in unemployment accelerated.

Record of indefinite contracts

Another of the most outstanding data for the month was the increase in permanent contracts, which has continued to rise since the approval of the labor reform. In March, the total number of registered contracts rose to 1,671,841, almost 20% more than in the same month last year, and “indefinite contracting registers 513,677 contracts, an absolute record for any month in the historical series that represents the 30.73% of all contracts”, highlights the Ministry of Labor, directed by Yolanda Díaz. “Since the month of December, the percentage of indefinite contracts over the total number of contracts has tripled,” she adds.

The increase in indefinite contracts is also noted in the number of affiliated workers with this type of more stable employment relationship. In March, 75% of affiliates have indefinite contracts, “which is 5 points more than usual before the pandemic, and 25% are temporary. In the years prior to the pandemic, this distribution was 70% permanent, compared to 30% temporary”, collects the Ministry of Social Security.

“This growth in indefinite contracts is accelerating as the 2022 financial year progresses and is widespread in all sectors,” indicates the department of José Luis Escrivá, which also highlights the reduction in the most precarious temporary employment, which barely lasts a few days. Thus, one-day contracts have been reduced “more than 17 points, going from over 30% of the contracts signed in a month in the years prior to the pandemic to 13%”.

Contracts that last between 2 and 7 days have also been reduced, “going from over 30% of the contracts signed each month to 17.3%”.

Another sign of greater employment stability, they indicate from the Social Security, goes through the greater survival of contracts: while in previous years only 11.7% of those signed since the beginning of the year were still in force in March, “now that percentage reaches 50.2%”. From one in ten to just over half.