Unemployment in Spain fell by record amount last year

5 Jan 17

Unemployment in Spain fell by the largest amount ever recorded last year, the country’s ministry of employment and social security has announced.


Agricultural workers

According to Eurofound, the agriculture is the industry with the highest amount of temporary work in Spain, followed by services and construction. But the country's boom in precarious jobs also affects sectors like public health and education, with doctors and teachers being hired for short periods of time rather than permanently.


Figures published yesterday by the department showed that the number of people out of work in Spain had dropped by 390,534 in December 2016 compared with the same month the year before, the highest figure on record.

That marks a 9.52% reduction over the course of the year, the largest since 1999. At 3.7 million people, the number of registered unemployed is at its lowest level in seven years, the ministry said.

The year-on-year reduction was even larger (13.8%) among young people – a group which have been particularly hard-hit by unemployment.

Meanwhile, the number of registered employees rose by the highest number in a decade: 540,655.

The figures serve as further good news for the Spanish economy, which is expected to notably outperform the average for the rest of the eurozone last year, with growth predicted at around 3.2%.

It represents an impressive turnaround for a country that suffered acutely as a result of the financial crisis, which transformed a promising economy into one saddled with debt and mired in weak or negative growth. At one point, Spain had one of the highest unemployment rates in the industrialised world.

A 2012 labour market reform, backed by the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, appears, according to yesterday’s data, to be paying off. However, critics argue it erodes workers’ rights.

Since then, temporary and precarious work has proliferated the Spanish job market – a trend that is also evident in yesterday’s figures.

According to the data, 18.3 million temporary contracts were signed over the course of 2016, compared with just 1.7 million permanent contracts.

In a statement on its website, a Spanish labour union, Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), stressed the “seasonal nature” of the fall in unemployment in December 2016, noting that only four out of every 100 contracts signed in the month were permanent.

It said this highlights the “fundamental problem” of “precariousness” in Spain’s labour market.

Meanwhile, the European Commission announced today that the European Social Fund, the oldest European Union fund created to invest in human capital, helped 9.4 million Europeans find work between 2007 and 2013.

Another 8.7 million gained a qualification or certificate, while 13.7 million reported increased skill levels as a result of ESF investments, worth €115.6bn over the period.

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