New data released by the Ministry of Inclusion on Tuesday, January 5th, revealed that 360,105 people became unemployed between December 2019 and December 2020.
This means that the pandemic destroyed around 1.86 percent of jobs across the country and the number of jobless jumped by nearly 23 percent in 2020.
Registered unemployment grew in December by 36,825, compared with the previous month. At the height of the pandemic in March and April, that figure stood at nearly 600,000 people.
This means that the current number of unemployed who are actively job seeking in Spain stood at 3,888,137 people.
The Ministry of Labor blamed the pandemic saying that it has “curtailed the Christmas season”, in a month which is typically good for jobs.
The report also stated that in the last 12 months, the number of registered unemployed grew by around 720,000.
“We are ending a dreadful year for employment,” said Lorenzo Amor, deputy head of the Spanish Confederation of Employers' Organisations (CEOE) who called on the government to extend its ERTE furlough scheme, which has already been renewed twice.
Union bosses say the furlough scheme has been vital, with Unai Sordo, secretary general of the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) admitting without it and other safeguards, there “could have been another two million unemployed”.
But the scheme has cost the public purse a huge amount, adding to the ballooning deficit and public debt in Spain, which had chalked up an impressive recovery in recent years from the devastation wreaked by the financial crisis of 2008.
The number of jobless rose in almost all autonomous communities in Spain, apart from four, where it actually decreased. These were the Basque Country, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla.
In December 2020, the biggest increases in unemployment were seen in Catalonia with 12,863 more people unemployed, in Castilla y León with 5,019 more people and in Valencia with 4,030 more registered.
Unemployment was highest in the construction sector, with 18,496 registering as unemployed last year, followed by industry with 9,885, and then service with 8,134 people. Agriculture saw the least rise in unemployment with only 1,311 registering.
Heavily dependent on tourism, Spain is expected to show the biggest slump among western economies this year, with the IMF expecting growth to contract by 12.8 percent.