The Spanish labor market continues to show signs that it is recovering from the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis. The average number of workers affiliated with Spain’s social security system, seen as a sign of job creation, rose to 19,591,728 in July, the highest figure on record. The last time social security affiliations were this high was in July 2019, when there were 19.5 million contributors. In other words, there are about 60,000 more affiliations today than there were two years ago.
On the unemployment side, figures released on Tuesday show that more than 3.4 million people are unemployed in Spain, against just over three million in July 2019. But this figure is decreasing month by month. The number of registered unemployed has fallen by 197,841 since June – the highest monthly drop on record. Indeed, this number has continued to decline since February, when it crossed the four million mark. Over the past three months, the number of unemployed has fallen by almost half a million. And there are now 365,636 fewer unemployed people compared to last year.
Importantly, these figures do not include workers who participate in the government’s ERTE job retention program, which was put in place last year to offset the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The program has saved thousands of businesses from bankruptcy during the pandemic, especially in the hard-hit tourism industry, but there are fears that unemployment will skyrocket when it comes to an end. On average, 339,000 workers were put on leave in July, according to data released Tuesday by the Social Security Ministry.
The increase in employment was observed in all industries, but more strongly in the service sector, where the number of unemployed fell by 133,658. Regarding the 17 Spanish regions, the largest decrease in the number of unemployed in absolute terms was recorded by Andalusia (-69,159), followed by Catalonia (-37,548) and the Canary Islands (-20,374). In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded by the Balearic Islands (-15.8%), Asturias (-9.9%) and Catalonia (-8.4%).
Data on the Spanish labor market also shed light on the role of women in the workforce. In June, the number of female workers in the social security system reached a record 9,076,939. Although this number fell by around 3,000 in July, the percentage of women in the labor force is still higher than in July. it was not last year. In June and July, the share of female affiliations increased by 5.2% and 4.8% respectively compared to the same months in 2020.
Despite this, women still represent only 46.31% of Social Security contributors, a figure that has only increased slightly over the last decade compared to 45.11% in 2011. Moreover, although women are in the minority in the working population, they represented 60% of the working population. unemployed in July and 52% of all workers on leave. Experts say this is due to the overrepresentation of women in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as the hospitality industry. These sectors also tend to have lower wages and less recognition.
“If industry, construction and technology remain in the hands of men, it will be difficult for women to increase their participation in the labor market,” said Javier Blasco, director of the consultancy firm Adecco Group Institute.
With reports by Daniel Lara, Sonia Vizoso and Eva Saiz.
english version by Melissa Kitson.