There are already almost half a million permanent unemployed who are not counted as unemployed by the government.

ERTESSpanish Ministry of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, in a meeting with trade unions’ respresentatives at the left and employers’ representatives at the right

By keeping the contract, the government does not count the permanent unemployed as unemployed when they are inactive. If they register with the SEPE to look for another job, they appear in another box called ‘demandantes de empleo con relaciones laborales’ (job seekers with employment relations).

At least 444,000 permanent seasonal workers are inactive and looking for another job. But the Ministry of Labour does not count them as unemployed, explains the digital newspaper Vozpópuli. This has always been the case, they have never been included as unemployed despite being ‘unemployed’ for a season. However, the statistical nuance is now even more important as it is the type of permanent contract that is growing the most with the labour reform. Since the spring, this has forced the replacement of very short term contracts with permanent ones.

Over the course of this year, almost two million permanent contracts have already been signed, but a significant proportion of these are not actually working or being paid. During these periods of inactivity, workers can even claim unemployment benefits if they have paid sufficient contributions. The point is that these inactive permanent unemployed, who now number close to half a million, are not counted as unemployed in the labour statistics simply because they have an active contract, even though they are not working.

A week ago, the unemployment figure for October was released, which turned out to be the most positive in the series, falling by 27,000 people, when unemployment usually rises in October. This result surprised most experts and analysts. They pointed out that this figure was altered by the labour reform and that it would be necessary to wait a few days for the Ministry of Labour to break down the data on job seekers with employment relationships, which ‘hides’ those permanent unemployed who are not working at the moment.

The employment statistics published this Thursday and consulted by Vozpópuli show that in October the total number of job seekers with employment relationships (which includes workers in ERTE and inactive permanent discontinuous workers) amounted to 461,277, compared to 229,059 in the same month of 2019, just double. The figure is also up on the previous month, September, when 303,559 job seekers with employment relationships were registered.

To be more precise, from the 461,277 job seekers in October, the 17,000 affected by an ERTE in October should be deducted. The result is the 444,000 inactive permanent seasonal workers who are looking for another job. In short, this growth in job seekers with employment relationships is mainly due to the exponential growth of permanent discontinuous contracts, which in some way confirms that the unemployment figure is altered by the labour reform, complicating the comparison with other years in the series.

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the real number of ‘out-of-work’ permanent employees could be higher than 444,000 people. This is because there are workers who do not register with the State Public Employment Service (SEPE) as job seekers and, therefore, do not appear in the Ministry of Labour’s statistics.

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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.