Unemployment, and the very high proportion of precarious jobs among Spanish young people, are symptoms of a collective failure that impoverishes our country, and affects not only those directly touched by the phenomenon. The lack of stable work, and thus for normal life, is a chronic problem in Spain, and the crisis and the recession have intensified this malady to unsustainable extremes. The statistics are clear, but behind them lie names and faces, stories of despair among young people who now see a job paying even 1,000 euros a month as unattainable. Hence the term “nimileuristas” (people earning not even a thousand) — the title of a series of articles being prepared by this newspaper.
The rate of youth unemployment has escalated rapidly in the last five years to 49.9 percent, which is double the EU average. Yet most of those who do manage to enter the labor market do not even obtain the conditions and wages that would enable them to live independent lives, or to participate in the productive system in a way that would reflect the principles of personal dignity they were taught in school — that is, a way befitting citizens of a democratic country in the developed world.
The absence of active policies for employment, and the insufficient attempts to modify the pattern of Spanish growth, have aggravated the effects of an economic crisis that has been devastating in terms of unemployment. The general impoverishment of the population, with a massive curtailment of income, has been hitting the young harder than any other class of people. It is to them that the widespread and growing job offers are addressed, featuring pathetic wages and long hours.
In a context of high unemployment and uncertain job security, under-the-counter payments and jobs without any sort of labor rights are beginning to become everyday occurrences for young people, many of whom have university qualifications. They see their own expectations frustrated, even as they view the obscene spectacle of an ever-more-unequal distribution of wealth. During the crisis the salary gap between executives and employees has kept growing, as is shown by the INE statistics agency’s survey on wage structure — a phenomenon that is not exclusive to Spain.
Some 89 percent of the Spanish population considers that the economic situation is bad or very bad, setting a record of pessimism that, like a vicious circle, is in turn a handicap to the system. A survey by the CIS agency that reflects this negative public perception also shows an increase in the number of Spaniards prepared to move to another city — or even country — to get a job.
Some reports speak of as many as 300,000 young people who have emigrated since the beginning of the crisis, putting to use in other countries the knowledge with which the Spanish educational system equipped them. This lack of job prospects is a dangerous breeding ground of social conflict, and an irreparable loss for our country.