Unemployment in Spain falls by 82,583 people, marking the best August in the current statistical series

The ranks of the unemployed have been thinning for six months now, with the labor market boosted by the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and the advanced vaccination campaign

Tourists on a beach in Torremolinos (Costa del Sol) in July.
Tourists on a beach in Torremolinos (Costa del Sol) in July.Garcia-Santos (El Pais)

Traditionally, Spain’s job market receives a boost at the outset of the summer season – mostly thanks to tourism – and then recedes in August. But this year the positive trend is yet to subside. According to data released on Thursday, unemployment fell by 82,583 people in the eighth month of the year compared to July, and the total number of jobless fell to 3,333,915 workers. The ranks of the unemployed have been falling for six months in Spain now, and according to the Labor Ministry, this August saw the biggest fall in the current statistical series, which began in 1996.

However, this fall in jobseekers in August was not accompanied by a rise in the number of people signed up to the Social Security system – considered a key indicator for job creation in Spain. Compared to July, there were 118,004 fewer contributors, but this is an average and without taking seasonal factors into account. The total number of contributors for last month was 19,473,724. Once this number is seasonally adjusted, the results are more positive: 19,477,505 contributors, up 76,541 compared to the month before.

The sectors that created most jobs in August were hospitality (+2.39%) and household activities (+3.91%), while the greatest losses were seen in education (-6.7%) and artistic, leisure and entertainment activities (-5.29%). The number of self-employed workers also fell by 7,358 (-0.22%) from July to August, to 3,315,603.

The deputy prime minister and labor minister, Yolanda Díaz, had stated yesterday during a radio interview with the Onda Cero network that the latest unemployment data “would be surprising.” There is optimism within the Spanish government – a coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and leftist Unidas Podemos – that the economy will continue to recover in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, and the positive data from the labor market are serving to bolster that sensation.

While the summer is traditionally a good time for the Spanish job market, this boost is usually limited to June and July, when contracts are signed. August, however, usually offsets this positive data, given that it marks the end of the tourism high season and thus the end of many of these work contracts.

This year, the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions and the advance of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign – which has now seen more than 70% of residents fully vaccinated – has served to stimulate activity further in the eighth month of the year.

ERTE furlough scheme

During August, a total of 1,407,563 contracts were signed, which is 288,900 more than in the same period in 2020 (+25.83%). The cumulative number of contracts signed so far this year is now nearly 11,864,833, a total of 1,910,570 more (+19.19%) compared to the same eight-month period last year.

There was also positive news last month for the Spanish government’s ERTE furlough scheme. By August 31, 272,190 workers were still on the scheme, which is a fall of 59,296 people compared to the last day of July. The average number of people on the ERTE scheme in August, however, was slightly higher, at 277,905, but this is a far cry from the 3.5 million workers who were on furlough at the peak of the labor crisis in 2020 that was caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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