The construction sector is vital to employment figures in Malaga. F.G.
It was the sixth consecutive month during which unemployment has gone down; the second consecutive month heading the improvement in the labour market on a national level; and the best August since 1996 in terms of reducing unemployment. These are three ways of summing up the employment situation in Malaga last month.
In a period when employment levels traditionally suffer because seasonal contracts come to an end, the list of unemployed people in the province dropped by 3,189 (1,508 men and 1,681 women) to a total of 193,641, according to figures just released by the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.
The drop in unemployment extended across all sectors and was accompanied by a rise in the number of people registering with Social Security (1,204 more than in July), which is in contrast to the sharp drop in the country as a whole.
Since the unemployment curve began to descend in March, 24,830 people have come off the unemployment register in Malaga. During these six consecutive months of reductions, Social Security has gained 29,466 affiliates in the province. The accumulated creation of employment has resulted in a slowdown of the rise of the inter-annual unemployment rate, so although there are more people unemployed than at this time in 2012, the gap between one year and another is the smallest since the crisis began.
At the end of last month, there were 1,644 more people looking for work than on the same date in 2012. The previous year (between August 2011 and August 2012), there had been an increase of 16,808.
This reduction in unemployment is framed within a tourist season that has been very positive for the Costa del Sol - with a record number of overnight stays and visitors in June and July - and at a time of profound transformation of the labour market in Malaga, which is losing active population because of emigration (12,400 people from Malaga have gone to work abroad since 2009) and immigrants returning to their own countries. On top of this, there is the famous ‘discouragement effect’ which means that many people who are out of work are not included in the statistics because they can find no incentive to register as looking for work. This phenomenon is best illustrated by the construction sector, where the sustained fall in unemployment cannot be attributed to the creation of employment.
The drop in unemployment in August was shared in all sectors. The largest reduction was in services, with 1,696 fewer unemployed, followed by those who have never worked (a group which includes long-term unemployed), where there was a drop of 938. There were more discreet reductions in construction (-206), agriculture (-177) and industry (-172).
The number of contracts issued was lower in Malaga than in the previous month, but rose in inter-annual terms: 42,241 contracts were signed, which was 876 more than in August 2012. However, only 4.3 per cent of these were indefinite and the rate of temporary employment is still growing, as the unions point out. In the year so far there has also been an overall increase in new contracts: 357,817 until 31st August, which is 3,106 more than in the same period of 2012.
The good figures for August have been received with various degrees of optimism. The greatest was shown by the Government subdelegate, Jorge Hernández Mollar, who described the summer as being “splendid for the tourist sector and therefore for the growth in employment”, and he lost no hesitation in linking the evolution of the labour market with the management of the Partido Popular.
The delegate of the Andalusian government, José Luis Ruiz Espejo, welcomed the fact that Malaga was the province in which there had been the greatest drop in unemployment, and the biggest drop in August, but he considered this improvement to be circumstantial.
The UGT and CC OO unions agree about the temporary and seasonal nature of the employment, and the CEM recommends waiting for September’s figures “which will reflect the end of the tourist season and determine whether this trend will be consolidated”.