Slight rise in Spanish employment likely to be seasonal

Youth joblessness running at 55.7 per cent

People wait outside an unemployment office in Madrid, Spain today. Spanish government figures show that the number of people registered as unemployed edged down by a little under 5,000 in March, the first reduction for the month in five years. Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

People wait outside an unemployment office in Madrid, Spain today. Spanish government figures show that the number of people registered as unemployed edged down by a little under 5,000 in March, the first reduction for the month in five years. Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

 


There was a rare upbeat note to unemployment figures released in Spain today, as the number of people out of work in March fell slightly from the month before.

However, a temporary spike in hiring often occurs over the Easter period in Spain and many of the nearly 5,000 people who found work are expected to be jobless again soon.

Spain is struggling to emerge from recession, battling to cut a bloated deficit and reforming a crisis-ridden financial sector. But with an unemployment rate of 26.3 per cent, the labour market is the most immediate worry for most Spaniards.

The country’s decade-long property boom is blamed for sending the jobless figures soaring. Spain’s construction sector drove the economy from the late 1990s and the jobs it created drew thousands of workers, many of them immigrants. But when the bubble burst, in 2008, the work disappeared.


Severe austerity
Two recessions since then have made matters worse and a programme of severe austerity by the government of Mariano Rajoy has prolonged the downturn and laid off many civil servants.

But by far the hardest hit by Spain’s labour crisis are young people – the jobless rate among those under the age of 25 has risen to 55.7 per cent.

“We’re the best-educated generation in Spain’s history but even so we still can’t find jobs,” said Saúl Pérez, of the JOC, a young people’s labour organisation linked to the Catholic Church. “Those who find a job usually find one in an area that has nothing to do with their training. This affects young people financially and psychologically. It affects their family and their plans for the future.”

A recent study showed that 64 per cent of young people believe they will have a worse standard of living than their parents. As a result, many are leaving Spain to seek work in northern Europe, the United States or Latin America.


Frequent firing
The government carried out a major overhaul of the labour market a year ago. But while the reform makes hiring easier, critics say firing has become less costly – and more common.

The jobless rate is expected to remain high in 2013. One thing the government and its critics are agreed on is that only economic growth will bring unemployment under control.