As summer tourist season ends, jobless claims surge again in Spain

Data confirms high numbers of people forced to work in temporary or short-term positions

The Spanish labor market is still highly volatile.
The Spanish labor market is still highly volatile.PACO PUENTES

As the summer season comes to a end, unemployment is on the rise again in Spain. The number of jobless claims filed with employment offices rose by 46,400 people in August from the previous month, new statistics show.

This is a much sharper rise than over the same period last year, when the number of claims increased by 14,435 people. There are now 3,382,324 people in Spain officially registered as being out of work.

Having a stable job is very important if, after you lose it, it could be a long time before you find another one

Meanwhile, the number of people contributing to Social Security – considered a measure of job creation – fell to 18,309,844 people in August, after retreating 0,97%. This is the greatest job destruction for a month of August since 2008.

These latest figures confirm the volatility of the Spanish labor market, characterized by its high rate of part-time and temporary positions – the first to be axed when crisis hits.

Temporary workers

A new Eurostat survey also finds that Spain is among the member states with the greatest number of people working in temporary posts against their will.

In 2016, 91.4% of Spain’s temporary workers said they would have preferred to be in a permanent position. Only Cyprus had a higher rate, at 92.2%. Most of these workers want a more stable, full-time job – particularly since these pay better.

Laura Martínez, 26, who has a degree in psychology and speaks English fluently, is one such under-employed worker.

“It’s obvious that I would like to have greater job stability than the two months my current contract gives me,” says Martínez, who despite her university degree, works at a call center.

Around 3.62 million people in Spain are in a similar situation, which the economic crisis has  only made worse. Before the real estate crash in 2008, 85% of temporary workers were unhappy with their status. Now, that rate is closer to 92%, over 30 points above the EU and euro zone averages, which are both in the 62% range.

The European Labor Force Survey finds that last year, an average of 26% of Spanish workers had temporary contracts. The latest figure for this past spring is slightly higher, at 26.8%. In recent years only Poland has outdone Spain, at 27%. However, only 62.6% of Polish temporary workers said they wanted an open-ended contract, compared with 91.4% in Spain.

This difference could be related to the unemployment rate, which was around 20% in Spain in 2016 and just over 6% in Poland. Having a stable job is very important if, after you lose it, finding another can take months. At the other end of the spectrum, if it is easy to find a job, workers are no longer so obsessed with finding a permanent position.

English version by Susana Urra.

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