Spain’s unemployment figures improve as economy gradually recovers

Many Spanish companies continue to re-hire workers affected by temporary lay-off schemes known as ERTEs. [EFE/Fernando Villar]

Unemployment in Spain significantly improved in May, with 129,378 fewer people searching for a job, the best official figure since 1996, EURACTIV’s partner EuroEFE reported.

Spanish Social Security gained an average of 211,923 contributors in May compared to April – a 1.1% increase, reflecting the largest monthly job creation since May 2018.

Despite the positive trend, 3.4 million people or 15.4% of the people working in the public employment services (SEPE) services registered as unemployed – a figure that is double that of the 7.3% EU average, fresh Eurostat data shows.

Meanwhile, youth unemployment (under 25s) amounted to 38% and among women it stood at 13.7%.

The economy’s gradual recovery, related to the good pace of the vaccination campaign and a low COVID-19 contagion rate, have directly contributed to the better-than-expected results, experts stressed.

“The (good) progress of the vaccination campaign and the relaxation of (mobility) restrictions to combat the pandemic have contributed to this new reduction (of the unemployment figures)”, according to a press release published on Wednesday (2 June) by Spain’s inclusion and social security ministry.

The main drivers of May’s good results are the country’s hospitality sector, which was heavily impacted by the pandemic measures in place since March of last year. The state of alarm expiring on 9 May was key in helping boost the recovery.

Spain to apply for EU funds to retrain workers on furlough scheme

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is expected to apply for EU funding to help retrain 900,000 workers on government-backed temporary lay-off schemes known as ERTE, Spanish financial media has reported. EURACTIV’s partner EuroEFE reported. 

Fewer workers affected by furlough schemes

In parallel to the creation of new jobs, many Spanish companies continue to re-hire workers affected by temporary lay-off schemes known as ERTEs.

In May, 95,439 workers managed to exit the temporary scheme, leaving 542,142 people still affected by either a full or limited furlough scheme.

The ERTE scheme sees the Spanish state pay workers around 70% of their normal salary and prohibits companies from firing people.

In case of fraud or redundancies, companies must return exemptions from contributions to the social security system and risk heavy penalties. Those benefiting from the ERTE schemes are officially considered as employed, meaning they are not counted as jobless.

[Edited by Daniel Eck]

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