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UNEMPLOYMENT

Spain’s jobless rate sees ‘biggest drop in 5 years’

Spain's unemployment rate fell for the first time in two years to 26.26 percent in the second quarter, official data showed on Thursday, a day after the central bank said the recession-hit country seemed close to a recovery.

Spain's jobless rate sees 'biggest drop in 5 years'
Spain now has the second-highest level of unemployment in Europe after Greece. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

On the back of demand for workers during the tourist season, the number of jobless people fell by 225,200 over the quarter to reach a total of 5,977,500 unemployed, dipping under the psychological barrier of 6 million, according to the national statistics office (INE).

"If we compare the development of unemployment of this quarter to the same quarter during the last five years, it must be underlined that the fall in unemployment is the biggest since 2008," the INE said of its survey of Spain's active population (EPA).

Spain now has the second-highest level of unemployment in Europe, after Greece, which posted a jobless rate of 26.9 percent in April.

During the first quarter, Spain's jobless rate was at a record 27.16 percent.

Thursday's improved data came a day after the Bank of Spain said the Spanish economy, the fourth-biggest in the eurozone, seemed close to a recovery.

It also adds to a wave of good news in the eurozone, with business data showing that the bloc may be on the road out of recession.

Spain, once the motor of job creation in the 17-nation single currency area, is now struggling through a double dip recession brought on by the collapse of a property boom.

Its economy contracted by 1.37 percent last year, the second worst yearly slump since 1970, and the government forecasts it will shrink again by between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent this year. 

Nevertheless, the government has also repeatedly signalled in the past month that the economy is about to get back on track on the wave of resurging exports.

Spain has two sets of unemployment figures, providing different estimates.

Employment Ministry figures are based on the number of unemployed persons registered in their offices.

Spain's INE, however, conducts a survey (the EPA) of 65,000 Spanish households to obtain its results.

The EPA includes responses from some people who want to work but who are not registered in the employment offices.

The responses also include those who fall into other special working categories which are not recorded by the Ministry.

This explains why EPA unemployment figures are much higher than those of Spain's Employment Ministry.

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ECONOMY

Unemployment in Spain hits four million for first time since 2016

The number of people in Spain registered as unemployed surpassed four million for the first time in five years in February, government figures showed Tuesday, as pandemic restrictions hit the country's tourism-dependent economy.

Unemployment in Spain hits four million for first time since 2016
Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Jobless claims rose by nearly 45,000 last month over last month to hit 4,008,789, the labour ministry said, the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

The rise is due to the impact of “severe restrictions imposed to combat the third wave of the pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement.

The last time the number of jobless in Spain rose above four million was in April 2016.

Spain’s regional governments, which are responsible for health, have imposed various measures to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including shutting down bars and restaurants and nightly curfews which have hit the hospitality sector hard.

A broader, quarterly household survey by the national statistics institute INE provides the official unemployment rate, which hit 3.7 million or 16.1 percent at the end of December.

Both the labour ministry and the INE figures do not include the roughly 755,000 people benefitting from a government coronavirus furlough scheme as of the end of last year.

The Spanish government says it has spent €40 billion ($48 billion) since the start of the pandemic to finance the furlough scheme and help the self-employed.

Spain’s economy contracted by 11 percent in 2020, one of the worst performers in the eurozone, with its key tourism sector battered by the
pandemic.

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