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The illusion of jobs

Rather than just promise more employment, the government should worry about the quality of the positions being offered

An unemployment office in Madrid.
An unemployment office in Madrid.Carlos Rosillo

The review of macroeconomic forecasts that will probably provide the basis for the 2017 budget is overly complacent. The caretaker government is predicting 2.9% growth this year and 2.3% the next, as a concession to an economic slowdown that is already noticeable in quarterly statistics.

Since the government has a fixed idea that economic growth will be enough in and of itself to correct the deficit within the parameters established by Brussels, it seems logical that it should maintain high growth forecasts – which are not improbable, in any event.

Creating unskilled, badly paid, highly temporary positions will not solve the problem

But this kind of optimism, which can be viewed as a minor offense with regard to economic growth, comes closer to being a capital sin in the case of employment. The notion that the economy will create 900,000 jobs between now and next year, and that joblessless will decrease by a million people, is a baseless claim in view of the social reality around us.

The relevant thing about the job market in the current situation is the quality of the jobs being offered. Creating unskilled, badly paid, highly temporary positions will not solve the problem. Everyone knows that low productivity generates precarious employment.

Instead of increasing this type of agreement —Spain has 200,000 contracts lasting under a month— economic legislators should focus their efforts on improving hiring through more permanent positions and stable incomes.

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That’s what the government (this one or the next) should be discussing. The data about macroeconomic improvement does not accurately describe reality. Anyone who examines the labor survey EPA will soon find the real scope of this inflated job figure.

There is no doubt that 900,000 jobs are better than none, but citizens deserve to know whether this recovery will continue to be characterized solely by bad jobs and low salaries.

English version by Susana Urra.

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