22nd October 2021
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622,600 jobs lost in Spain during 2020, with 3.7m now unemployed (16.1%)

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (9 Feb)

According to data from Spain’s quarterly workforce survey (EPA) and released by the National Institute for Statistics (INE) on Thursday, 2020 saw a total 622,600 job losses during the year due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Total unemployment has reached 3.71 million (a jobless rate of 16.1%).

In regional terms, and underlining the importance of tourism in the world’s second-most-visited country, the key tourist destinations of the Balearic and Canary Islands registered some of the highest job losses in 2020.

Spain normally receives around 83m visitors during a full year, its tourism sector accounts for 12.3% of the country’s GDP – and it also generates more than 2.6m jobs in the country.

The number of furloughed workers on Spain’s ERTE job retention scheme dropped from 3.4 million in the second quarter of 2020 to slightly over half a million. These workers do not count as unemployed even though their working hours have been reduced or put on hold.

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A Starbucks café closed in La Rambla of Barcelona during the height of the lockdown in April 2020. (Edu Bayer)

However, the number of people employed in Spain increased by 167,400 in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter (0.87%) to stand at a total 19,344,300. In seasonally adjusted terms, the quarterly variation is 1.29%. It is the second highest growth since 2005. This improvement in the fourth quarter also gives more credibility to the Spanish government’s forecast that the economy is continuing to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The total number of effective hours worked also continued to recover in the fourth quarter of 2020, with an increase of 10.1%, leading to growth of 26.7% in the second half as a whole. Remote working during the on-going curfews and lockdown restrictions has also helped save the labour market in Spain. According to the EPA, almost 10% of those employed worked from their own home more than half of the days, a slightly lower percentage than the previous quarter, but double the average for 2019, which was 4.8%.

Employment increased in all sectors in the quarter, the INE said. The greatest increase occurred in the services sector, with 79,600 more people working, followed by agriculture, with 51,000, and construction, with 30,900.

High unemployment has plagued Spain’s economy for decades and it remains one of the EU countries with the highest share of people out of work, especially among young people. Youth unemployment soared to 40.15% in the last quarter from 30.5% the year before, but slipped from 40.45% in July-September.

The Spanish government expects a record 11.2% economic contraction in 2020 and a rebound of at least 7.2% in 2021.

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