The number of public employees has grown by 6.8% since 2019 and is at record highs, while the private sector is still one million short of its 2007 record. It is true that, taken together, public and private employment, the aggregate number of employed (20.18 million) does exceed the pre-pandemic number by 218,000.
But it is public sector employment that has broken historical records and is 6.8% higher than before the outbreak of Covid, with 3,475,500 people employed by the State today – compared with 3,254,300 in the last quarter of 2019.
The number of public employees has grown by 222,200 people since 2019, with a particularly steep increase in 2020 due to the needs arising from the pandemic. In fact, public sector employment grew by 125,800 in 2020 and by 96,400 in 2021.
The boom in public employment over the last two years has been led above all by the autonomous communities (which have added 227,500 people). They are followed by the Social Security (which has increased its workforce by 6,300 people), local corporations (+3,600 people) and public companies and institutions (+1,700). Central government, on the other hand, now has 23,800 fewer employees.
The public sector has been a driving force for employment, although it has been based on temporary contracts, something to which the government claims it wants to put an end. Of the new public sector workers, 170,900 are on temporary contracts, while only 51,200 have signed an open-ended contract. Seventy-seven per cent of the jobs created during this time by public administrations have been temporary.
“There are currently 1,076,299 workers in our administrations in a situation of temporary employment, which means a rate of 30.9%, 11.6 points higher than in the private sector. In addition, 70% of these temporary contracts are for women, which also shows that precariousness is particularly prevalent amongst women in highly feminised positions, located on the front line in front of Covid”, denounced the CSIF union, the majority union in the public sector, on Thursday.
On the other side, private sector companies created 744,200 jobs in 2021, but this has not been enough to compensate for the destruction of jobs that occurred during the pandemic. As a result, at end-last year there are still 4,200 fewer employees in the private sector in Spain than before the crisis.
In total, the number of private sector employees in the country will stand at 16,709,400 people at the end of 2021, compared with 16,713,600 at the end of December 2019, according to the Labour Force Survey (EPA) published by the INE. The total number of wage earners is still far from the record registered in Spain in 2007, when there were 17.76 million workers in the private sector.