The results of the EPA (active population survey) for the first quarter of 2014 reveal a jobless rate of 36%
The economists’ optimistic forecasts have suffered a setback following the results published this week of the EPA survey for the first three months of 2014. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE) the province of Malaga reached an all-time unemployment high at the end of March with a total of 285,800 people out of work, that is 36.5% of the active population, up 0.3% on December’s figure.
The figures go against the trend in the rest of Andalucía, where, according to the survey, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.32% to 34.94%.
For this most recent survey the INE has modified its population figures used as a base reference, taking the total from 2011 instead of 2001. The result, an extra 3,300 job seekers, has not altered the unemployment trend for the first quarter. The active population considered for the survey has grown by 2,000.
While experts and analysts agree that in no terms can they be positive about an unemployment rate of more than 36%, they do point out that the year-on-year figures show a decrease in job losses between March 2013 and March 2014. The number of people in employment has increased by 8,500, however the statistics show 3,100 more unemployed workers because there are 11,500 more job seekers than a year ago.
“Bearing in mind the financial context, we can say that we are in a process of financial recovery,” said Antonio García Lizana, Professor in Applied Economics at Malaga University. He puts the negative figures for the first three months down to the usual first quarter fall in the services sector, on which employment in Malaga relies heavily.
Meanwhile the EPA shows the unemployment rate for Spain as a whole at 25.9%. Of an estimated active population of 22,883,900, 16,950,600 are in employment and 5,933,300 are out of work.
Government predicts employment growth of 0.6% in 2014
The Spanish government has raised its GDP growth forecasts for this year from 0.7% to 1.2% in its stability programme update for the coming years announced on Wednesday.
On a more negative note the report to be presented in Brussels predicts that the country’s unemployment rate will not fall below 20% until 2017, and that will be to a great extent thanks to the fall in the active population figures due to emigration, among other factors. It forecasts a net increase in employment of 0.6% this year and of 1.2% in 2015.
Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said that 2014 would be a turning point in the Spanish economy. He said that the majority of new jobs created would be in the private sector, in services and industry.
The Government has shown its optimism by reducing its deficit target for this year to 5.5% of the country’s GDP.