Viral map reveals Spain’s jobless hotspots

A new map puts Spain's chronic unemployment under the microscope, showing which parts of the country have been hardest hit by the jobs crisis.

Viral map reveals Spain's jobless hotspots
An image showing unemployment in Spain's municipalities in January 2014. The dark red areas have a jobless rate of 30 percent or higher. Screen grab: mapadelparo

The Google-based map gives a breakdown of Spanish employment at provincial and municipal levels.

Based on official data from Spain's Ministry of Employment and Social Security (SEPE) and National Statistics Institute (INE), it shows just how severe the effects of the country's economic crisis have been.

Not one of Spain's 50 provinces could boast of an unemployment rate of less than 10 percent in the final quarter of 2013, according to SEPE, while that figure was a staggering 37.04 percent in Andalusia's Cordoba province.

At the lower end of the scale, the Basque province of Gipuzkoa (home to the city of San Sebastian) had an unemployment rate of 12.75 percent. In Madrid province, meanwhile, that figure was 21.03 percent and in Barcelona province it was slightly higher at 21.74 percent. 

At the municipal level, the picture becomes much more complicated, INE data shows. Here, January 2014 figures show a dark red stain across the centre of Spain, indicating jobless rates of over 30 percent.

SEE ALSO: Seven shocking facts about Spanish unemployment.

There are more white zones — or areas where unemployment is lower than 10 percent — in the centre and north of the country, although these can be found throughout the country. Andalusia, for example, is home to a fair number of these areas, especially in Jaén province. 

But these ares of 'high employment' can also be misleading. The Valencian municipality of Estubeny, for example, has an unemployment rate of just 7 percent. But the total active population of the area — that is, people either working or looking for work — is just 107 people.

The Catalan municipality of Gisclareny can boast an unemployment level of 0 percent. This is not quite so impressive given the total active population of the area comprises just 6 people.  

The municipality of Barcelona, with just over 1 million active people, has unemployment of 10 percent while in Madrid, with an active population of nearly 2 million, the jobless rate is 13 percent.  

The Unemployment Map uses Spain's two sets of unemployment figures, providing different estimates.

SEPE figures are based on the number of unemployed persons registered in their offices. The INE, however, conducts a survey (the EPA) of some 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 local employment offices. Answers also include those who fall into other special working categories not recorded by the employment ministry.

The EPA results are considered Spain's official unemployment rate. But the maker of the Unemployment Map Miguel García points out that the SEPE data provides a great deal of detail at the level of local unemployment offices.

Spain's official unemployment in the final quarter of 2013 was 26.03 percent, up slightly from the 25.98 percent recorded in the previous quarter.

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‘Hard to stay afloat’: Is working for an English language academy in Spain worth it?

It's the go-to work option for countless anglophones in Spain, but is teaching at an English language academy still enough to pay the bills in a climate of rising prices, stagnant wages and a shift to online learning platforms?

'Hard to stay afloat': Is working for an English language academy in Spain worth it?

Traditionally seen as a type of gap-year experience for recent graduates and/or those seeking adventure before settling down to a more traditional career path, English language teaching in Spain has becoming increasingly popular as a long-term career.

A high quality of life, a more favourable climate and generally lower living costs have always made Spain a popular destination for English language teachers, with Spain posting the highest number of job advertisements for teachers among European countries.

As a result, many of those working in the industry see it as somewhere to further both their professional and personal lives.

However, poor job security, stagnant salaries and issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of language academies have plagued the sector for years.

The recent impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current rise in inflation has further compounded these issues, with many teachers considering their long-term careers in Spain.

Teachers working for private language academies in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla can expect to earn between €800 to €1,400 a month after tax for about 20 to 30 hours of class time per week.

One teacher told The Local Spain that despite working as a profesor de inglés for almost a decade, his academy salary had gone down dramatically in real wage terms, following a salary cut during the pandemic which made it “hard to keep my head above water”.

“I was working as a teacher for nine years but felt the need to leave the profession as the hours I needed to work were affecting my mental health. During my first three years in Spain, I was able to get by on my salary. Since then, I have increased the number of private classes gradually, I save the same a month as I did when I first moved here, but have to work an extra eight hours a week to be in that situation”.

READ ALSO: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

As of 2022, the minimum monthly salary stands at €1,166 gross for a 40-hour working week, meaning that someone working as an English teacher can expect to earn more or less the minimum wage based on their contact hours, with many opting to teach privately in order to supplement their income.

In addition to this, most teachers are hired on short-term indefinido contracts, meaning that they only earn a monthly salary for nine months of the year, resulting in many taking on summer work to maintain a year-round monthly income.

While short-term informal contracts and a relatively manageable monthly salary may have appealed to single, twenty-somethings seeking a few years of fun and adventure in Spain, for those looking to support a family or get on the property ladder the precarious economic reality of English language teaching has seen many reconsider their long-term career goals.

“I rented when I initially moved here but now I’m paying off a mortgage which has gone up due to interest rate rises,” another English teacher told The Local Spain. 

A traditionally in-person industry, the pandemic forced many academies online and, due to increased competition from online language learning platforms along with a paradigm shift in terms of hybrid and remote study and work, academies have struggled to replace students lost to this new language learning environment.

As a result of this, some teachers have seen their weekly teaching hours reduced as academies simply cannot guarantee a full schedule, putting further financial pressure on teachers.

teaching english spain

Poor job security, stagnant salaries and issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of language academies have been plaguing the industry for years in Spain. Photo: Thirdman/Pexels

One teacher with over seven years working experience for a large English academy in Madrid told The Local that “a few years ago our company began the long process of trying to cut our supplements and basic wage”.

“We were backed up by our comité, (representative group) but after about a year of negotiations, reductions (and redundancies) were made. At the time it cut about €250 from my meagre wages.”

As is the case across Europe, the level of inflation in Spain has risen sharply to about 10.5 percent as of September 2022. Combined with rising energy prices, more and more teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to live off a salary in some cases of just over €1,000 a month.

With the average cost of renting a room ranging from €400 to €500 in large cities, some teachers are choosing to cut costs in terms of their living standards to make their salaries stretch further.

Another teacher told The Local how “while I still go out at the weekend and buy the food I want at supermarkets, the increase in rental prices has meant that I’ve stayed in a less-than-ideal room, rather than finding a better room – due to not wanting to pay significantly more in rent”.

While the challenges facing English teachers in Spain are not unique to their line of work, this latest set of drawbacks should be factored in by anyone considering making a move here or teaching long-term.

Such economic realities are difficult to ignore, but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot English teaching can offer someone looking to gain some valuable work and life experience while also enjoying the hustle and bustle of life in Spain.

Article by Cormac Breen