In 2021, Spain Was The Country With The Highest Unemployment Rate In The EU For The 13th Consecutive Year

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According to the III Labor Market Yearbook published Friday by the Adecco Group Institute, Spain added in 2021 its thirteenth consecutive year as the country with the highest number of unemployed in the European Union (EU).

Thus, despite the fact that in 2021 all the employment lost in the pandemic was recovered, with a generalized fall in unemployment, Spain, which accounts for 9.2% of the population of the EU-27, had 22.8% of its unemployed.

Adecco highlights in its report that women’s employment recovered last year “more strongly” than in the case of men. Thus, female participation in total employment increased to 46.1%, a new all-time high.

Moreover, between 2011 and 2021, while the number of men working grew by 4.9%, the number of women grew by 10.3%. So women captured almost two out of every three jobs created in the last decade. Despite this, the male employment rate at the end of last year was more than 10 points higher than the female rate.

For the second consecutive year, health and education were again in 2021 the branches where employment grew the most, by 6.9%, the highest increase since 2008. In contrast, manufacturing and commerce were the only branches of activity that lost employment for the second consecutive year.

According to Adecco, 8 of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities recovered all the employment lost during the pandemic, specifically in Andalusia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Extremadura, Madrid and Murcia.

Some 63% of the employment created last year was generated by the private sector, 26% was created by the public sector and 11% came from self-employment. The total number of public sector employees increased for the seventh consecutive year, reaching an all-time high of 3.45 million, and accounting for one out of every four jobs created last year.

Employment grows more among young people and the over-60s

Employment increased last year to a greater extent amongst the under-24s and the over-60s than in all other age groups. Whereas in 2001 only one out of every 25 employed persons was aged 60 or over, this now accounts for 1 out of every 12.

The unemployment rate in Spain fell from 15.5% to 13.65% in 2021, reducing the unemployment rate of the unemployed with higher education from 10.2% to 9.2%.

For Adecco, this shows that the employment outlook for those with less education will be “worse”. “We cannot abandon our unemployed to the fate of their decisions and uncertainties,” the group stresses in its yearbook.

It also highlights the “scourge” of long-term unemployment in Spain, with 1.63 million people unemployed for at least a year and a proportion of long-term unemployed of 27%, three points above that of 2020 and the fourth highest percentage in the EU, whose average stands at 20.6%.

The minimum wage exceeds that of the US.

According to Adecco, the minimum wage in Spain reached €1,126 in 2021, a figure 53% higher than in 2016 and above that of the United States, despite the fact that its GDP per capita is twice that of Spain.

The yearbook highlights that in Europe there is great diversity as far as minimum wages are concerned, as in nine countries there is no legal minimum wage and seven others have a minimum wage above 1,500 euros per month.

Adecco also highlights that in 2021 Spain was below the EU average in personnel dedicated to R&D&I, an indicator that has been stagnant since 2010.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.