Malaga leads growth of self-employed workers with the main push coming from women

Malaga leads growth of self-employed workers with the main push coming from women

The number of 'autónomos' has risen by 45% since 2012, but the number of female entrepreneurs has shot up by 60%

Cristina Vallejo


Tuesday, 16 April 2024, 17:31


Malaga is the province in Spain in which the number of self-employed workers is growing the most, a movement that is being led by women, according to the latest data.

The growth of women as 'autónomos' far exceeds that of men, the figures show. Since 2012, the oldest record in the history of the ministry of inclusion and social security, the number of self-employed people has risen by 45.8% in Malaga, from just over 92,000 to 134,354, making it the fifth province in the country with the most self-employed. Malaga only trails Madrid and Barcelona, where there are more than 400,000; Valencia, with more than 185,000; and Alicante, with 142,000.

This growth is more than four times higher than the rest of the country, where it is limited to 10%, from 3.04 million to 3.35 million, according to the data.

134,354 self-employed workers

in Malaga last March, according to Social Security records, making it the fifth province in terms of the number of self-employed, after Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante

And Malaga also far outstrips - more than doubles - the Andalusian provinces that follow: the increase in self-employed workers in Cadiz, Granada and Seville ranges between 27% and 21%. And in terms of Social Security affiliates in the self-employment sector, Malaga is ahead of Seville, which is the sixth province for then umber of self-employed workers, with 118,300.

Led by women

However, the increase in the number of self-employed women has been greater, the data shows, both in Malaga and in Spain. Nationally, their growth is 18.55%, which is 80% higher than the 10% recorded by the self-employed as a whole and more than three times the increase experienced by men (5.8%). However, the number of self-employed men still exceeds the number of self-employed women: 2.1 million men compared with 1.23 million women.

60% of the self-employed

are still men in Malaga, but twelve years ago they accounted for 65% of the total.

In Malaga, meanwhile, just over 51,000 self-employed women contrast with just over 83,000 men. But the balance of power has changed significantly over the past twelve years for which data is available. In 2012, men accounted for 65% of all self-employed workers, while 12 years later, in 2024, they account for 60%. Women, at 40%, are approaching their share, accounting for half of the population.

This is the distribution of self-employed workers after the number of women in Malaga has increased by 60% in the past twelve years, from almost 32,000 in 2012 to over 51,000, while the number of self-employed men has grown by 38%, from 60,200 to 83,200. If Malaga leads the growth in the total number of self-employed workers, it is also the leader in an increase in the number of self-employed women, as well as the number of self-employed men.

Although there are 10% more self-employed in Spain than 12 years ago, growth has not been the norm throughout the country: there are 23 provinces where the number is lower than 12 years ago; for example, in Lugo, Palencia, Ourense, Zamora and León the fall is between 15% and 10%.

This uptick in Malaga, according to figures from UATAE (Union of Self-Employed Workers' Associations), continues to occur in the immediate short term: if in Andalucía as a whole self-employed workers grew by 2.4% in the past 12 months, in Malaga the rate was 4.1%. And, from ATA (Association of Self-Employed Workers), its president in Andalucía, Rafael Amor, believes this "is not the result of chance, but of public investment and the work done to take advantage of it", adding that the Technology Park, the airport and the growth of some inland areas of the province make Malaga a "perfect place for entrepreneurship".

Isabel Lavado, from UATAE, pointed out the importance of institutional programmes to preserve self-employment in rural areas, such as that of the provincial council to guarantee generational replacement, or others that help those who have a business venture.

Impact on consolidation

Rafael Amor said the growth of the self-employed is accompanied by other patterns in the province and in Andalucía such as a greater consolidation of the productive fabric they make up: 75% of Andalusian self-employed workers have been active for more than three years and 65% for more than five years. And this, Amor said, has contributed to the growth of the self-employed due to the activities they start up having "greater durability". "They are businesses with more solid and proven viability plans," he said. However, they do present a vulnerability: in crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, where there was more destruction of self-employment among women than among men.

Women's businesses tend to be more durable and have stronger viability plans, experts say

In terms of sectors, women are increasingly involved in professional, scientific and technical activities. Lavado pointed out women are more open to new technologies and are more willing to adapt to change. "Theirs are more durable businesses and also show greater development. Moreover, when they start up, they can face other problems, but not glass ceilings or wage gaps," she added.

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