ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Unemployment rose by 5,100 people in June, traditionally a good month for the Spanish job market

Around 1.6 million workers in Spain have come off the government's ERTE furlough schemes, according to Labor Ministry figures

An employment office in Madrid.
An employment office in Madrid.Víctor Sainz / El País

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still being noted in the Spanish labor market, despite the deescalation of confinement measures. In a normal year, unemployment would fall and the number of people signing up with the Social Security system would rise in the month of June, ahead of the tourism high season. This year, however, unemployment has risen, albeit by just 5,107 people, bringing the total number of jobseekers to 3.86 million, the highest figure registered since May 2016, according to figures released today by the Spanish government.

The Social Security system, meanwhile, has picked up an average of 68,208 workers, bringing the total number of contributors to 18.6 million. This is the second consecutive rise in this indicator, which is traditionally used to measure employment from month to month.

The total number of jobseekers in Spain has risen to 3.86 million, the highest figure registered since May 2016

The rise in unemployment for June is the first increase seen since 2008, just months before the fall of Lehman Brothers and the year of the financial crisis. The increase in contributors to the Social Security system for the month is also the smallest since 2015.

In spite of these indicators, the figures for June also show that the Spanish labor market is stabilizing. The 5,107 new jobseekers represent a slowdown in job losses, in particular compared to March and April, when the coronavirus crisis was at its peak and Spaniards were locked down under the state of alarm implemented by the government. During the first two months of the pandemic, registered unemployment rose by more than 302,000 and 283,000 people, respectively. By May the increase had fallen to 26,573, and this downward trend has continued into June.

The Labor Ministry attributed the rise in unemployment in June to the end of the fruit-picking season, which saw 25,000 farm workers out of a job, and the incorporation of 30,000 people into the labor market who were inactive. Unemployment fell notably in June in sectors such as services and construction, and to a lesser extent in industry.

Unemployment figures do not include the thousands of workers who have been furloughed due to the coronavirus crisis, and are receiving part of their salary on a government work suspension scheme known in Spain as an ERTE. According to the ministry, during the peak of the crisis more than 3.7 million people were benefiting from the ERTE scheme, which the government recently extended to the end of September. Of these, 1.6 million have already returned to their jobs, 1.2 million of these in the month of June.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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