A construction worker. File photograph.

Record-breaking month as Spain finally smashes 20 million workers barrier

The target has been achieved, four years late, after the Covid-19 pandemic that suddenly destroyed almost a million jobs and in the midst of the war in Ukraine that is driving prices to record levels not seen for more than three decades

LUCIA PALACIOS

It was a record-breaking April in Spain’s jobs market. For the first time in history, the country’s Social Security system had 20 million people signed up, a goal that the former Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, had set for 2019.

The target has been achieved four years late, after the Covid-19 pandemic that suddenly destroyed almost a million jobs and in the midst of a war that is driving prices to record levels not seen for more than three decades.

But the labour market, against all odds, is resisting this new crisis better than anyone could have thought and has continued to create jobs at a very good pace.

Easter

Spring is usually a good time for employment, and this year has not disappointed. In April almost 185,000 new jobs were created in Spain and unemployment has been reduced by more than 86,000 people, helped because Easter fell in this month which encouraged taking on more staff according to data published this Wednesday, 4 May, by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.

April will also go down in history as the month in which practically half of the new contracts that have been signed will remain stable over time: a total of 698,646 permanent contracts have been registered, the highest figure ever recorded. The effects of the new labour reform have been strongly felt in its first month of full application and permanent contracts have increased notably. The improvement was registered in all sectors, in all autonomous regions, in all age groups and among both men and women.

Permanent workers

This has allowed the total number of permanent workers to rise to 77% of all contributors, six points more than is usual in the month of April. At the same time, the substantial reduction in very short-term contracts is accentuated: in April of previous years, three out of four contracts signed had a duration of between 1 and 7 days and last month they were one in four.

Another 184,577 contributors have been added to the Social Security system, the third best figure for April and in line with the average of the years prior to the pandemic. This has allowed the TGSS to close the month with a record number of 20,019,080 affiliates and it even exceeded 20.1 million for three days in April.

Unemployed

Meanwhile, the number of unemployed has been on the brink of falling below the threshold of three million, something that has not been achieved since November 2008, shortly after the real estate crisis broke out, although it is foreseeable that it could be achieved next May.

Spain’s ERTE-ETOP furlough scheme has stabilised at around 17,000 workers, after the slight rebound registered at the end of 2021 due to the breakdown of the supply chain and in mid-March, coincided with the strikes in the haulage sector.