Tourism is the sector in Spain that is coping best with the tough economic climate, and a hiring drive ahead of the peak summer season is having a notable effect on unemployment figures. The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain at the end of June fell by 127,248 compared to the previous month, according to figures published on Tuesday by the Labor Ministry. The fall is not only the biggest ever registered since the current data series began in 1997, but is also the best monthly figure for this period. The number of registered unemployed in Spain now stands at 4,763,680.
But on the employment side, not all the news is good. In June, the increase in the number of people in Spain who were paying Social Security contributions was at quite a low level compared to the fall in unemployment, with just 26,853 more workers registered. After this increase, the total number of workers registered with Social Security is still under 17 million, and is 633,977 fewer than the same month in 2012 (a 3.7-percent fall).
On Tuesday, the secretary of state for Social Security, Tomás Burgos, pointed out that “the behavior of registration levels in the months of June over the last two years is evidently far from the immediately preceding years, during which the crisis was at its most fierce and caused a huge and generalized destruction of jobs. […] This is influenced by seasonal effects, but also by the boost from trade and the undertaking of new activities,” he added.
In order to explain the gap between the number of unemployed workers and the amount of new registrations with Social Security, various factors need to be taken into account. The first of these is that people are continuously deregistering from the unemployment rolls after giving up on trying to find or job or because their benefits have expired. What’s more, a large number of people are heading abroad to work, while those who have retired also need to be factored in. These factors cannot be confirmed until the next Active Population Survey (EPA) is published, a data set that is generally considered to be the most accurate reflection of the labor market. According to the most recent EPA, which covers the first quarter of the year, Spain has more than six million people out of work.
Another explanation, to which Burgos himself alluded, was that while the unemployment statistics are generated at the end of the month – which in this case fell at a weekend, and could also reflect people leaving other jobs before starting seasonal work in July – the Social Security data is based on a monthly average. In fact, the net number of people who registered with Social Security at the end of June was 58,685.
“Although we would like to have achieved a higher figure, the general trend is an upward one,” explained the secretary of state, who also admitted the correlation between the June figures and the start of the tourist season.
When seasonal effects are factored out, the number of registered unemployed rose by 996 people from May to June, while the number of people registered with Social Security fell by 7,324 workers.
The number of registered unemployed has now been falling for four months in a row, which is one of the best streaks seen since the crisis first broke in Spain. The first half of 2013, with a fall of 85,043 people registered unemployed, marks the best start to the year since 2006. The number of workers registered with Social Security has also been on the rise for four months in a row.
In terms of sectors, the number of registered unemployed has fallen throughout, with the exception of agriculture. The fall is particularly notable in the service sector, where 90,149 people have deregistered (a fall of 2.96 percent). A fall has also been seen in the construction sector, with 18,516 fewer registered unemployed (down 2.56 percent) and industry, with a fall of 13,405 people (down 2.48 percent).
Broken down geographically, the number of registered unemployed has fallen in 17 regions, with some of the biggest dips seen in Catalonia (down by 24,878 people), Andalusia (16,442) and Madrid (14,716).