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Despite the fact that the economic vice-president, Nadia Calviño, had warned that the unemployment data to be published this Tuesday by the Ministry of Labor would not be positive for employment and was going to cause a downward revision of the Government’s macroeconomic forecasts, the labor market figures have revealed the best March in 6 years for unemployment, a historic increase in permanent contracts, mixed data for employment and a further reduction in workers on ERTE.
These are some of the main conclusions drawn from the unemployment figures registered with the State Public Employment Service (SEPE), which show that in March it fell by 59,149 people compared to the previous month, its best figure for this month since 2015 and its third-best historical record. Moreover, the total number of unemployed stands at 3.95 million people, behind the 4 million it reached in February and its January records.
This graph shows how Spain has become the leader in youth unemployment in Europe.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has released the affiliation figures for March, which show that average employment increased by 70,790 contributors with respect to the previous month, to an average of 18.91 million affiliates, although, in seasonally adjusted terms, the number of contributors fell by 45,438, to a total of 19.03 million people, which means recovering 668,000 affiliates since May last year.
Unemployment fell again in the best March in history for permanent hiring
With regard to the registered unemployment data, Labor pointed out that the total number of unemployed “returns to below the 4 million mark” after 5 consecutive months of increases, putting an end to this trend “once the impact of the third wave of the pandemic has been overcome, which has allowed the easing of restrictions affecting economic activity”.
Beyond the month-on-month decline of 1.5% in unemployment, the March employment figures highlight the strong increase in permanent contracts, as shown in the graph below, which shows that a total of 207,191 permanent contracts were signed in March, 14.76% of the total, representing the best figure for this month in the entire historical series, which Labor has attributed “to the impetus of the work carried out by the Labor and Social Security Inspectorate“.
In addition, more than half of these contracts, 128,800, were full-time, while the remaining 78,400 were part-time. Meanwhile, 1.11 million temporary contracts were signed, of which 27.90% were for a specific job or service, 25.48% were temporary due to circumstances of production on a full-time basis and 26.68% were part-time.
As for segmentation by sex and age, female unemployment fell in March by 26,680 women, 1.16% less, while male unemployment fell by 32,469, 1.91% less, while unemployment among those under 25 years of age broke its trend and fell more sharply than in the older age groups, with 2.35% less than in February, while among those over 25 years of age it fell by 1.39%.
By sectors, the greatest fall in unemployment was recorded in the services sector, with 53,686 fewer unemployed than in February, in construction, with 7,685 fewer, and in industry, with 3,675 fewer, while agriculture is the branch of activity which generated the most unemployment in March, with 2,368 new unemployed, while another 3,529 were previously unemployed.
By region, only the Basque Country registered an increase in unemployment, with 993 more unemployed, while the other 16 autonomous regions saw a reduction in unemployment, led by Andalusia, with 16,925 fewer unemployed than in February, in the Valencian Community, with 8,897 fewer, and in Catalonia, with 6,390 fewer unemployed than in the previous month.
Mixed sign in employment and new reduction of those affected by ERTEs
As for Social Security affiliation, the different readings of the average data, where an increase of more than 70,000 contributors is recorded, and of the seasonally adjusted data, which shows its second consecutive monthly decline, reflect the slowdown in employment, which remains more than 330,000 contributors behind its February 2020 figures and with 85,800 fewer affiliates than 12 months ago.
However, the Ministry of Inclusion and Social Security has highlighted that “668,023 affiliates have recovered since May 2020, the lowest point after the impact of the pandemic on the labor market”, pointing out that the biggest declines in affiliation in seasonally adjusted data have corresponded to the services sector, with 34,000 less employed, and in agriculture, livestock and fishing, with 20,000 less.
On the other hand, the construction sector has once again added affiliates for the second consecutive month, with almost 6,000 more, after having suffered its first decline in January since the beginning of the pandemic, just as the industry has added 879 new contributors and has now accumulated 9 consecutive months of job creation. However, in average terms, the services sector was the one that gained the most affiliates, with 69,000 more, followed by construction, with 18,300 more, and industry, with 3,800 more.
By regimes, the general scheme reached 15.57 million employed after increasing by 53,831 workers, while the self-employed added 15,245 workers, reaching an average of 3.28 million members. Meanwhile, all the autonomous regions saw an increase in average affiliation in March, led by the Balearic Islands, with 1.52% more, Cantabria, with 0.89%, and Murcia, with 0.84% more.
As for workers affected by ERTE, it was reduced at the end of the third month of the year to 743,628 people, which means 115,913 workers less than at the end of February and 2.9 million less compared to “the most acute moment of the crisis, in April 2020”, according to Inclusion, which highlights that workers included in ERTE have been reduced by almost 80% compared to the spring of 2020.
The ministry points out that 528,098 affected by ERTE, which represents 71% of the total, are included “in some of the modalities that were implemented as of October 1, extended as of February 1, and which entail exonerations to the Social Security”. In addition, it highlights that 60.5% of the affiliates working in travel agencies are in ERTE, being the most affected sector after the accommodation sector, with 56.68% of jobs temporarily suspended.
By territories, Inclusion assures that “there is an important concentration in the areas with greater tourist activity”, highlighting that Las Palmas is the province with more workers in ERTE, with 15.75% of its employees in this situation, while Santa Cruz de Tenerife has 12.5% and Baleares, with 10.6%, while Guadalajara is the province with the least impact of the employment suspended by the pandemic, with only 2.3% of its employees in ERTE.