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Spain has fewest job vacancies in EU despite worker shortage

The Local Spain
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Spain has fewest job vacancies in EU despite worker shortage
Spain has fewest job vacancies in EU despite worker shortage. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

New data from the European Commission has revealed that Spain is one of the countries with the fewest available jobs in the EU, even though many companies complain that they are unable to fill their vacancies.

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Spain historically has always had a high unemployment rate and today’s figures are no different, standing at 11.7 percent in the second quarter of 2023, making it one of the highest in the EU.

But new data released by Eurostat, the statistical service for the European Commission, reveals that part of the reason for this might be the fact that Spain has very few job vacancies. In fact, the proportion of jobs available in Spain is below one percent.

This means that out of every 100 jobs that exist, less than one has yet to be filled.

According to this latest update from Eurostat the number of vacancies stands at 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2023, although this number has not changed since the beginning of 2022.

Looking at all the data, it has been revealed that Spain is one of the countries that has the least number of available jobs in the EU.  

The Netherlands has a job vacancy rate of 4.7 percent, Germany with 4.1 percent, Slovenia with 2.9 percent and Italy with 2.2.

Eurostat so far only has data available for six countries in the second quarter of 2023, but looking at data from the first quarter, only Bulgaria, Poland and Romania had vacancy rates around the same as Spain.  

The statistics also include an estimate of the average European Union rate, which Eurostat put at 2.8 percent and the Eurozone rate at 3 percent, meaning Spain is well below the average.  

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These latest findings are in direct contradiction to what both companies in the hospitality and tech industries have been saying in Spain. Many have been complaining that they are having problems finding workers to fill their vacancies.  

In May of this year, we reported that Spanish companies were being forced to look abroad and recruit migrant workers to fill hundreds of thousands of job vacancies. At that time, a third of Spanish companies reported that they were having difficulties finding workers, a figure that rose to 50 percent in the hotel, catering and construction industries.

Spain’s Ministry of Labour agrees with the Eurostat data and insists that the country doesn’t have a problem with large numbers of unfilled jobs, despite complaints from employers.

“There are very few compared to the employed. It is not statistically true that companies have difficulties covering employment needs”, sources from the ministry told the national newspaper El País.  

"Our rate (0.9 percent) is so low because, unfortunately, our unemployment data is very high (11.7 percent, compared to the European average of 5.9 percent)," they explained.

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The Eurostat report explained that vacancy statistics provide information about the level and structure of labour demand. The vacancy rate can reflect both unmet demand for labour and potential mismatches between the skills and availability of those in unemployment and what employers are looking for.

These statistics are used by the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) to analyse the evolution of the labour market at both a national and a European level. "They are also a key indicator used for an assessment of the business cycle and for a structural analysis of the economy," the report stated.

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