Spain's unemployment: Seven shocking facts

George Mills
George Mills - [email protected]
Spain's unemployment: Seven shocking facts
Neighbours in the Andalusian town of Bollullos del Condado pose before houses in an abandoned building project that they have occupied. File photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP

Spain's unemployment rate hit 26 percent again this week. Here The Local gives you seven stats that will help you understand just how serious the situation is.


New unemployment figures from Spain's National Statistic Institute (INE) show that recent macroeconomic improvements in Spain are yet to create new jobs.

While Spain has now clocked up two consecutive quarters of fragile growth, the INE data — based on a quarterly survey of 65,000 homes nationwide known as the EPA — shows the country's unemployment climbed back up to 26.03 percent at the end of 2013, up from 25.98 percent three months earlier.

Here The Local provides seven statistics that highlight the extent of Spain's unemployment problem. 

1) Spain has now seen six straight years of job destruction. Some 198.900 jobs disappeared in Spain last year, and 3.5 million have vanished since the country's crisis began in 2008. 

2) There are 1.832.300 households in Spain where nobody has a job. That is 1.36 percent more than a year earlier.

3) Some 686.600 households in Spain have now income at all — not even social security. That is twice the figure seen in 2007, or before the crisis struck. 

4) More than 3.5 million in Spain have been out of work for at least a year — that 61 percent of all people who currently find themselves without work in the country.

Some 2.3 million people have been out of work for at least two years.

5) Spain's new jobs are of poor quality. The number of ongoing positions in Spain fell by 269,000 in 2013 while the number of temporary contracts rose by 81,300. 

6) Some 69,000 found work in 2013, but unemployment actually rose in the final three months of the year. 

This is because the number of 'active' people in Spain — those working, or seeking employment — actually fell by 267,900 last year, leaving a smaller pool of people fighting for the same jobs.

Many people — especially those in the 16–35 age group — have simply given up looking for work, or have left the country to look for work elsewhere. They are therefore no longer included in the official figures. 

7) Working Spaniards put in 5.86 million hours of overtime every week from October to December, up 18.4 percent on a year earlier.

A total of 57.7 percent of those hours, or 3,38 million a week are unpaid. This is equivalent to 146,500 new jobs, says Spain's La Voz de Galicia newspaper.    

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.

The INE, however, conducts a survey (the EPA) of 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.

The EPA results are considered Spain's official unemployment rate.

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