Almost a third of post-pandemic jobs in Spain filled by foreign workers

The Local Spain
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Almost a third of post-pandemic jobs in Spain filled by foreign workers
Construction workers build a new tramway lane in Barcelona in 2023. Photo. Pau BARRENA/AFP.

Data from Spain's Social Security ministry shows that foreign workers have bolstered a solid post-pandemic recovery by the Spanish labour market.


Almost one third of all jobs created in Spain since the end of Covid-19 pandemic have been filled by foreign workers.

In total, over half a million (522,692) foreign workers joined the Spanish labour market , figures from Spain’s Social Security Ministry reveal.

Some 29.2 percent of the total jobs created since the outbreak of the pandemic were taken by foreigners, and migrant contributors to the social security system reached an all-time high of 2.7 million at the end of 2023.

Of the total, 862,013 workers came from EU countries (32.3 percent) and 1,806,763 from non-EU countries (67.7 percent).

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In the four years since the pandemic began, the Spanish labour market has recovered well and added 1.6 million jobs overall compared to pre-pandemic levels.

This is less than the previous four-year period (2015-2019), when 2.7 million jobs were created in total, but must be considered in the context of consistent economic upheaval: first a pandemic shutdown, then war in Ukraine causing an energy shock, and then the lingering inflationary pressures that came from it.

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The rise in foreign workers coincided with the lifting of lockdown measures and labour shortages in certain industries in the post-pandemic period.

This demand was particularly strong in sectors that traditionally have large migrant workforces, such as the hotel and catering industry, which employs 19 percent of foreign workers in Spain overall, as well as sales and retail, which employs 17.2 percent, and construction, which employs 11.9 percent.

Between April 2020 and the end of 2023, foreigners were employed above all in sales and retail (14.6 percent), administrative activities (13.7 percent), construction (13.1 percent) and hotels and restaurants (10.9 percent).

Breaking the figures down on a nationality level, a little over half of the positions filled by foreigners were taken by Colombians, Venezuelans, Moroccans and Italians. On the other hand, the number of Romanians, a traditionally large migrant workforce in Spain, fell, as did the share of Bolivians, Bulgarians and Britons finding new jobs.


Colombians took the most new positions (105,481), followed by Venezuelans (85,312), Moroccans (69,519) and Italians (56,563).

The Chinese, by comparison, added only 37,518 new positions, and Ukrainians, who, despite significant population growth in Spain in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion, only added 21,653 workers to the labour market in the post-pandemic period.


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