The 'Big Quit' hits Spain despite high unemployment and huge job vacancies

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The 'Big Quit' hits Spain despite high unemployment and huge job vacancies
Is the great resignation coming to Spain? Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP

The phenomenon sweeping across the US, where millions have quit their jobs during the pandemic, has now arrived in Spain, despite an unemployment rate of 13.5 percent and 109,000 job vacancies.


The 'Great Resignation' trend, also known as the 'Big Quit', began at the beginning of 2021 in the United States, when large numbers of people decided to quit their jobs in order to seek better opportunities, quality of life or pay, often without having a new position lined up beforehand. 

Now, the phenomenon has found its way to Spain, despite the chronically high unemployment rate here (currently 13.5 percent) that's plagued the country for years.


While the numbers of people voluntarily quitting their jobs in Spain are still far below the likes of the US and Italy, the Spanish government is starting to worry as 109,000 job vacancies remain unfilled.

In the US, so far a whopping 50 million have quit their jobs since the start of 2021 and in Italy, it has been reported that 1.3 million have left their jobs.


Increase in job vacancies in Spain

During a debate for Spanish news agency Europa Press, Spain's Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour Yolanda Díaz expressed concern and urged that the “great resignation” in Spain needed to be stopped.

“Spain needs 109,000 workers. Part of these vacancies are in the hospitality sector, but there are others that have to do with the need for highly qualified personnel linked to technological and digital transformation”, she said.

According to the latest social security statistics, around 30,000 workers in Spain voluntarily left their jobs in 2021 and the trend is continuing to rise.  

A survey by Spanish jobs website Infojobs in February found that 27 percent of employees in Spain were contemplating quitting their jobs in 2022, which could suggest that many daren't resign or that many more will hand in their notice in the following months.

However, Díaz explained that based on Eurostat data, out of all the countries in the EU, Spain is the least affected. The proportion of vacancies in Spain is around 0.7 percent, while the European average exceeds 2.5 percent and in countries such as Germany, it is at 3.8 percent.

Another report carried out by human resources company Hays on work trends for this year indicates that 77 percent of Spaniards surveyed said they would change jobs if they could.

READ ALSO: Meta, IBM, Google, Amazon - How thousands of tech jobs are being created in Spain


68 percent of them confessed that they are actively looking for another job and the main reason they argue is to find a job with a better salary. 

This data reveals that the reasons for the great resignation are slightly different in Spain from the reasons why people are quitting in the US, which is mainly due to burnout and the desire to find a job that fulfils them and makes them happier, rather than just seeking out a better opportunity for more money. 

Solutions to the problem

During her speech, Díaz pointed out the importance of increasing the minimum wage (SMI) and ensuring that "they are not the cause of the increase of CPI [Consumer Price Index]".

According to Hays, 71 percent of the Spanish companies surveyed plan to hire more employees in 2022, and 67 percent of them consider that their business will increase during the year. The most sought-after employees are salespeople, engineers and computer scientists. 

Despite this news, Spain’s labour reform which came into force at the beginning of 2022, means that the spike in permanent contracts is improving job security and quality for thousands of previously exploited temporary workers.

READ ALSO: How a spike in permanent contracts is improving job security in Spain

Around a third of employees hired in the first four months of 2022 have been given permanent contracts. 

The rate of new permanent contracts has been rising month on month this year, representing 15 percent of new hires in January, 22 percent in February, 31 percent in March, and 48 percent of new contracts in April.


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