The hospitality industry was the sector where employment grew the most. Marilú Báez
Employment is streets ahead in Malaga and on the Costa del Sol but inland areas in the province lag well behind

Employment is streets ahead in Malaga and on the Costa del Sol but inland areas in the province lag well behind

Employment grew by 6.3% in 2023, which means a net increase of 42,500 jobs, making Malaga the province with the strongest growth in Spain in percentage terms for the first time

Cristina Vallejo


Thursday, 18 April 2024, 10:12


Employment in Malaga grew by 6.3% in 2023, which means a net increase in jobs of 42,500. This makes the province with the strongest growth in Spain in percentage terms for the first time, according to data from a report presented on Wednesday by Comisiones Obreras (CC OO - a major Spanish trade union). Previously, in 2022, Malaga was in 16th place and 26th in 2021. In comparison to this rise in employment figures in Malaga province last year, all Andalucía was limited to 3.4% and just 3% for the whole of Spain.

But the trade union emphasised that this strong growth in employment in the last year - the third highest in recent years, after 2014 and 2018 - was very unevenly distributed, both by where it occurred within the province, and by gender, as well as by age and industry sector. In short, locations, women, young people and agriculture were left behind.

Taking location first, the provincial secretary of Comisiones Obreras Fernando Cubillo pointed out that "the inequality and the development of provincial districts are very noticeable" and "there is more employment in the area around the Costa del Sol, while inland places are emptying out a little more". As such, according to the published report, "no less than 83.7% of the growth in job signings is concentrated in the western end of the Costa del Sol and Malaga-Costa del Sol". Thus, of the 25,071 workers that the province gained last year, 11,552 corresponded to Malaga city or nearby and 9,432 were located in the western end of the Costa del Sol. Moreover, as also highlighted in the report, this is not just a recent phenomenon of last year, but is "permanent": in the last five years these two locations have accounted for more than 80% of new employment.

Most jobs are in hospitality

The jobs distribution was also uneven across industry sectors. Last year, employment grew in only two sectors: industry (8.8%) and services (8.5%). However, it decreased in agriculture (17.9% after having also fallen by 5% in 2022, leading Cubillo to say that the countryside is in a situation of "constant and permanent decline"). Employment also fell in construction (7.1%).

In terms of gender, employment fell in agriculture for both men and women, although women came off worst, similarly in construction. Meanwhile, in industry in general, employment growth was stronger among women than among men, and among the service industry, the same dynamic also occurred.

Still, it must be said that the big pull on employment came from the hospitality industry, which grew at a rate of 17% in 2023. This is a key reason as to why the trade union views the current employment panorama as "very out of kilter": industrial employment barely reaches 5.5% of the total, while construction accounts for 7.6% and then 84.6% falls under the service sector.

Highly biased and focused on women

Another element highlighted by the union is the increase in part-time employment, which grew by 13.8% last year, compared to the 5.1% rise in full-time employment. "This pattern of employment within the province goes against the grain of what happened both in Andalucía and in Spain as a whole. In both cases, full-time employment grew by more than 3%, while part-time employment grew very slightly - 0.8% in Andalucía and 1.5% in Spain", stated the report, pointing out that: "The consequence of all the above is that the part-time rate rose by one point in 2023 in the province, the same as the drop in 2022, so staying at 15.2%".

Furthermore - and this is relevant to another aspect of employment inequality in the province, i.e. gender inequality - the increase in part-time employment was entirely female, growing by 21.3% in 2023, while male part-time employment decreased by 4%. As a result, the female part-time rate rose by 2.7 points to 24.7%, while the male rate fell by six tenths of a point to 7.1%. As stated in the report: "Partiality continues to be the greatest discrimination based on gender ... and 2023 has been very unfavourable for female employment at the provincial level, especially from the point of view of its quality, a quality closely related to the type of working day".

María José Prados, secretary for Employment and Training of CC OO in Malaga, revealed a rather pertinent piece of data on gender inequality: that senior management and technical positions grew by 8.3%, with 17,000 new jobs, and yet 16,300 of those went to men. And this is despite the fact that the average level of education in Malaga province is higher among women than among men, yet still 65% of unskilled jobs are in the hands of women.

Besides this, the unemployment rate also continued to be higher for women, remaining above 19% compared to 14% for men. Female temporary employment stood at 18.6% last year, compared to 16.6% for men.

More temporary employment in the public sector

Turning to more on temporary employment, another gap is opening up in the province, in this case between the public and private sectors: for the first time temporary contracts are more common in public organisations (22.5%) than in private companies (16.6%). Moreover, in contrast to the general growth in employment, the public sector suffered a loss of 5,300 jobs last year, which Cubillo claims has led to a deterioration in the quality of the public services provided.

In terms of age, while employment growth was widespread, it was limited to 5.7% for the under-30s, among those aged 45 to 60 years the increase was 8.4%.

The strong growth of the labour market in Malaga still leaves much to be fixed. The increase in employment since 2008 has been lower than the increase in the working population for the same period. This means that the labour market has not been able to absorb the growth in the number of people available to work over the last three decades. So, CC OO's figures suggest that, over the last 16 years unemployment has increased by 65,400 people, but the decrease in unemployment of 135,500 people does not compensate for the increase in the working population, which totals 200,900 people.

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