Number of employed in Spain exceeds 20 million for the first time since 2008

The Spanish labor market continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, with jobless figures falling 3.59% in the third quarter, according to new data

A sidewalk café in Santiago de Compostela.
A sidewalk café in Santiago de Compostela.Europa Press

The health of the Spanish labor market continues to recover as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic fade. The number of employed workers rose in the third quarter of 2021 by 359,300 people to reach a total of 20,031,000. Not only is this an increase of 1.83% compared to the previous quarter, but also breaks the 20-million mark for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the global financial crisis was beginning.

The figures, published on Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE), also contained positive news about unemployment. During July, August and September, the ranks of the jobless fell by 3.59% or 127,100 people, for a total of 3,416,700 unemployed. The unemployment rate for the third quarter came in at 14.57%, a percentage that fell for the fourth quarter in a row, according to the INE.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the global economy, in Spain the labor market is recovering thanks to the fall in the incidence of the virus – in a large part due to the high uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines available. In Spain, more than 78% of the population is fully inoculated against the disease.

“This data confirms that the recovery of employment, after the serious blow that was an economic shock such as the pandemic, has been very fast, taking into account the historical behavior of the Spanish economy,” said the secretary of state for the economy, Gonzalo García Andrés, speaking on Thursday. “The success of the vaccination campaign has placed us in a good healthcare situation. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and the health risk continues to be one of the principal factors for the macroeconomic outlook.”

The third quarter of the year is usually a positive period for employment, given that it includes the summer months when there are seasonal jobs on offer in the tourism sector. This is reflected in the rise in the active population (people aged 15 and over and who are available and willing to work during the week before the survey is carried out). In the third quarter of 2021, the active population rose by 232,200 to 23,447,700. According to the INE, this group grew by 547,900 people compared to the third quarter of 2020.

This data confirms that the recovery of employment, after the serious blow that was an economic shock such as the pandemic
Secretary of state for the economy, Gonzalo García Andrés

The number of people in work grew by 359,300 compared to the previous quarter, and according to the INE also grew 854,100 in the last 12 months, a rise of 4.45%. Occupation has risen in all sectors, but particularly in services, where there are 377,200 more workers, followed by industry, which gained 63,000. However, there were falls in agriculture (-49,600) and construction (-31,200).

The number of people on contracts rose by 409,100 in the third quarter, after a rise was also seen in the previous three months. The number of indefinite contracts went up by 145,000, but this figure was overshadowed by temporary contracts, which went up by 264,100. This means that the rate of temporary workers has held steady at around 26%, well above the average for the European Union of 14%. Given this circumstance, the CCOO labor union has called for “a root-and-branch reform of hiring measures,” one that would bring an end to the “hyper-flexibility” in the labor market.

According to these latest figures from the INE, youth unemployment also fell in the third quarter, returning to levels seen at the end of 2019. In the summer months, 73,100 people aged under 25 entered the labor market, and the unemployment rate for this group fell to 31.15%, a reduction of some seven points compared to the previous quarter.

What’s more, households where all active members were unemployed fell by 35,800 people in the third quarter, to reach 1,122,100 – that’s 50,700 fewer households than a year ago. The number of households where all active members are employed rose by 197,300 to reach 10,798,900, the highest number in the last 14 years.

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