Jobless queue shrinks in Spain, but 26% rate still dents recovery

The most relevant piece of data of the Spanish EPA (Active Population Survey, in Spanish)  is occupation: how many people are actually working. In Q1 2014 the average occupancy rate was of 16.95 million people, a rate that keeps going down: 182.000 people less tan in the previous quarter; 80,000 less that one year ago; one million less than at the beginning of 2012, when the Ministry of Labour changed its name to Ministry of Employment.


As for the highest peak of the series (3Q 2007) the job loss is 3.8 million, a drop of 19%, an employment destruction world record during the crisis.


The second data we should note is that of workforce including the employed and unemployed who have not be dissapointed to join the inactive group. That number has been shrinking for the last five quarters: 600,000 less than during the autumn of 2012.


Some of those people are migrants who have returned to their countries, others are Spaniards who have gone abroad, discouraged people who have stopped looking for work. With 22.9 million of active citizens the employment rate stands at 59.5%, and going down. It’s one of the lowest of OECD and the eurozone, which sends a warning signal of an anomaly.


The new employment survey provides new data on the flow of people who shift from being employed to being unemployed and otherwise, or to/from inactivity to/from getting a job. These data are not good either, as they point to an employment draining situation. Employment destruction speed is simply slowering.


Political propaganda may emphasize the positive side (for example, the fact that there are 2,300 unemployed less), because there is always something favorable indeed, and dismiss what is not favorable. But that is the ostrich strategy: denying reality even if this leads to disappointment and despair.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.

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