Sunday, 4 February 2024, 08:14
Pedro Sánchez's government has become a machine for creating public employment: the number of public servants has shot up by more than half a million in little more than five years.
This group, made up of police officers, health workers, teachers, administrative staff, and, also, ministers, senior officials and advisors to the government, became one of the driving forces behind the recovery after the pandemic. Doctors, nurses and psychologists were needed more than ever to combat the virus, but also teachers for the more fragmented classes and administrative staff to manage all the benefits and aid that had to be put in place.
The health crisis has passed, but even so, public employment continues to have a very important weight in the growth of the Spanish labour market. Of the more than 1.8 million average number of new Social Security affiliates that have been registered in the last five and a half years, almost 520,000 are concentrated in the Administration; in other words, more than one in every four new jobs, according to data from the Ministry of Social Security.
When Pedro Sánchez arrived at La Moncloa in June 2018, there were just over 2.4 public servants in Spain. Today, their number has soared by more than 21% to almost three million for the first time in history. Such a spectacular pace of public employment creation has never been seen before; it is more than double the 9.6% increase in general employment for this period.
Successive record offers of public employment are behind this strong increase. Last year around 40,000 vacancies were advertised and, since Sánchez became prime minister more than 180,000 have been launched, although a significant number are not new posts but are intended to stabilise jobs in order to reduce the abuse of interim positions.
In any case, this is a historic figure, which triples the 63,400 posts approved by Mariano Rajoy's government. With the arrival of Sánchez, the years of job cuts in the public administration came to an end, cuts that began with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and continued with Rajoy to combat the crisis of the real estate bubble, when the renewal of vacant posts was halted and a zero replacement rate was imposed. Now, at last, net employment is being created thanks to a replacement rate of 120% in priority sectors and 110% in the rest.
But for the unions it is still not enough and they demand the total elimination of the replacement rate in order to renew a workforce that, they claim, is still insufficient and very old. They note that the government’s Administration department has 2,400 fewer workers than in 2010 and 60% of the workforce will retire in the next eight years. "We have a lack of structural public employment," said Francisco Lama, secretary of CSIF's trade union action, who added that "we do not want one more public employee or one less than necessary".
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