Certainly, unemployment data released for March would appear to support the notion of 3% growth. In fact, Social Security registrations and new hires have posted positive results across all sections both quantitatively and qualitatively. On the campaign trail for the upcoming local and regional elections, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy welcomed the data which were the best so far this decade and indeed since the onset of the crisis in 2008. Rajoy was effectively attempting to win over an electorate still sceptical about the impact of the economic recovery.
Quantitatively, the three main positives are: registered unemployment -4.45 million people out of a total of 23 million- decreased by 60,000 in March and by 350,000 y-o-y. Membership of Social Security, a determining factor for pensions, reached 16.83 million, an increase of 160,000 in the month and 536,000 over the course of the year. New hires in March totalled 1.44 million, a full 20% higher than a year ago. From a qualitative perspective, two thirds of these were full time contracts. Permanent contracts also rose by 144,000, a significant improvement on results shown in the preceding months.
The improved unemployment figures consolidate a growing trend that has been in evidence since the second half of 2013. During 2014 1Q –a good year in terms of employment- there was an increase of 100,000 in the numbers of registered jobless residents.
The recession from 2007-2013 gobbled up over three million jobs in the Spanish economy, of which 20% have been recovered since the economy returned to growth in mid 2013. The quarterly data still needs to be ratified by the EAP later this month, but should improve the GDP targets and bring growth close to the desired 3%. The excellent performance in the tourist sector over the Easter period serves to confirm this hypothesis.