A total of 191,170 foreigners became social security contributors in Spain in 2021, more than quadrupling the loss of 45,000 foreign workers who left in 2020, in large part due to the coronavirus crisis.
This represents a yearly increase of 11.62 percent in the number of foreigners registered in the country’s social security system, taking the total to 2.26 million registered foreign workers in Spain.
The biggest rises were among foreign nationals who already make up the biggest population groups of extranjeros in Spain: Romanians (with a total of 331,739 registered workers in Spain), Moroccans (285,501), Italians (140,387), Chinese (107,143) and Venezuelans (106,264).
The only exception are Britons, who although number around 380,000 according to 2020 data from Ministry of Inclusion, are not necessarily social security affiliates through their jobs, but also through pensions or other schemes.
In December 2021, there were 65,711 UK nationals that were affiliated to Spain’t social security system through work.
By regions, the biggest increases in registered foreign workers in December 2021 were in Andalusia (+3.6 percent) and Castilla-La Mancha (1.77 percent) whereas the biggest drops were in the Balearic Islands (-5.17 percent), in Cantabria (-1.52 percent ), and in Galicia (-1 percent).
However, Catalonia and the Community of Madrid had the biggest yearly increases with 45,000 and 38,000 new foreign workers in 2021, and the two regions continue to have the highest number of registered foreign workers in Spain, with 536,000 and 469,000 respectively.
In terms of the new jobs foreigners have filled most in December 2021, the biggest rises were in agriculture and other food production (+2.78 percent), energy supply (+1.16 percent) and healthcare (+1.57 percent).
As for the job sectors that registered the biggest rises in foreign employees over the whole of 2021, these were in energy supply (+24.9 percent), hospitality (+21.2 percent), information and communications (+17.8 percent) and artistic activities (+17.1 percent).
The number of foreign self-employed workers in Spain also grew slightly by 1.1 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, meaning that foreign autónomos now represent 12.8 percent of Spain’s total.
The Spanish Ministry of Inclusion and Social Security recently announced that employers in all industries in Spain can now recruit third-country nationals in their countries of origin rather than having to find candidates in Spain when they’re struggling to fill job positions.
However, tens of thousands of highly-qualified professionals in regulated fields are having to wait two years or longer for the recognition of their qualifications (homologación) to be processed, thus preventing them from working and keeping them in limbo.