Spain recovers nine out of 10 jobs lost during pandemic

The number of people in employment rose by 464,900 in the second quarter while the jobless rate has fallen to 15.26%

Workers in Seville on Thursday.
Workers in Seville on Thursday.PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS)

The Spanish labor market is continuing to bounce back from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of people in employment rose by 464,900 in the second quarter of the year, more than making up for the fall registered between January and March, when 137,500 jobs were lost.

A total of 1.06 million jobs have been recovered since the same period last year, when Spain was in the worst of the pandemic. It is the greatest year-on-year rise in 16 years, since mid-2005. The number of employed in Spain now stands at 19,671,700, while 3.5 million are registered as jobless, up 176,000 since mid-2020. Since the first quarter, the jobless number has fallen by 110,100, bringing the unemployment rate down to 15.26%.

Since the beginning of the year, 327,000 jobs have been created, but Spain is still a long way off from where it was before the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2019, 19.8 million people were employed – 133,000 more than now. This means, however, that approximately nine out of every 10 jobs that were lost during the worst months of the crisis have been recovered. In June 2019, unemployment was at 14.02% (by the end of the year, it had fallen to 13.78%) and 3.32 million people were registered as jobless, meaning that today there are 310,000 more people who are without work.

A total of 1.06 million jobs have been recovered since last year, the greatest year-on-year rise in 16 years

The second quarter of the year is typically a good period for the Spanish labor market as it coincides with the start of the summer high season. This year, it also coincided with the end of the state of alarm, which led to an end of the nighttime curfew and other coronavirus restrictions, as well as the strong progress of the Covid-19 vaccination drive. Some measures, however, have been reintroduced in recent weeks in a bid to contain the spread of the fifth coronavirus wave.

Of the 464,900 new jobs created in the second quarter, most were recorded in the services sector, with the number of employees in this industry rising by 365,700 since the first three months of the year. The construction, industry and agriculture sectors also saw significant rises.

The employment boost was seen both in the number of salaried workers, which rose 403,200 since the first quarter and by 980,600 with respect to June 2020, as well as self-employed workers, which were up 71,800 since the first quarter and 78,000 since last year. With respect to the number of employees, there are 98,100 more people on permanent contracts and 305,000 more on a part-time contract since the first quarter. This brings the temporary employment rate to 35.06%, up 1.26 points since the start of the year.

The regions which have seen the biggest job growth between April and June are Andalusia (102,400), the Balearic Islands (60,300) and Valencia (55,100). In Valencia, however, the number of unemployed rose by 15,600 people. Meanwhile, the regions which saw the biggest drop in unemployment were Murcia (22,200), Catalonia (21,200) and Andalusia (19,800).

It is important to mention that unemployment figures do not include workers who are on the government’s ERTE job retention scheme. According to data from the Social Security Ministry, released in June, 448,000 people remain furloughed.

As the coronavirus crisis eases, the number of people working remotely in Spain has started to fall. A total of 9.4% of employed individuals are working from home more than half of the time, down from 11.2% in the first quarter. To put that in perspective, this figure reached 16.2% in the second quarter of 2020, when Spain was under a strict home lockdown, and was just 4.8% in 2019 (at that point the National Statistics Institute only provided yearly data).

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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