The start of a new year doesn't normally bring good news about employment in Malaga and this one was no exception. The Survey of the Active Population (EPA) for the first quarter of 2018, which was published last week, shows that 11,800 more people were unemployed than in final quarter of 2017. The unemployment rate rose from 20.73 to 22.11 per cent, and a total of 169,200 people were registered as looking for work.
Looking at unemployment in Andalucía, Malaga province has the second highest rate after Seville, where the number of people out of work rose by 21,100. Unemployment fell in all the other provinces in the region (apart from Cadiz), but not enough to compensate, so in Andalucía as a whole the number of unemployed rose by 15,100. In fact, Andalucía saw the second highest rise in unemployment in Spain, after the Balearic islands.
In Malaga, the increase is due to two factors, which share the blame almost equally. One is the destruction of jobs: during the first quarter, the EPA estimates that 596,300 people in the province were working, which is 5,400 fewer than in the final quarter of 2017. At the same time, the size of the active population increased by 6,400 to a total of 765,500.
The rise in unemployment was exclusively in the services sector, where 18,000 jobs were lost in the first quarter, once the Christmas season and winter sales were over and because it is low season for tourism. In the construction sector the situation was the opposite: a great many new jobs were created. In three months, 9,300 more people were employed in this sector, an increase of 22.5 per cent, bringing the total to over 50,000. The agriculture sector also grew, although to a lesser extent: there were 3,000 more people employed. The industry sector barely changed, with just 200 more workers than in the previous EPA.
There was also an increase in the number of 'under-employed' people, the term used by the EPA to describe people who are not able to work as many hours a day as they would like. In Malaga, 72,000 are in this category, which is an increase of about 10 per cent. It is a problem which affects more women than men: there are 44,700 female under-employed in the province, compared with 28,000 men in the same situation.
Better than a year ago
Despite the results of the EPA, it should not be forgotten that overall the employment situation in Malaga is considerably better than a year ago. Compared with the first quarter of last year, the number of people looking for work has dropped by 31,200 nd the number of workers has increased by 31,900. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate was 26.2 per cent, which is four per cent higher than at present.
The services sector is also in a better situation than a year ago, as 21,000 jobs have been created during that time. The next best-performing sector is construction, with an increase of 8,700, and agriculture with 3,900. Industry is the only sector to have lost workers: 2,300, to be exact.
However, job stability is still a problem. In the past year, the number of temporary jobs has risen by 3.8 per cent to 33.1 per cent; in other words, nearly one-third of workers in Malaga have a temporary contract.
Unions say the latest EPA figures show that the employment which has been created is “fragile” and they also point out the difference in unemployment when looked at in terms of gender: male unemployment in the province is currently 18.33 per cent, compared with 26.59 per cent for women.