The labor market started in 2024 with 139,700 fewer employees than at the end of 2023, the second worst job destruction figure since 2014, only surpassed by 2020 during the pandemic. According to data from the Active Population Survey (EPA), in the first quarter of the year there were 21,250,000 workers, although the unemployment rate rose to 12.29%, with 117,000 more unemployed.

The first quarter of the year is usually bad in terms of employment. After the Christmas campaign, the EPA usually releases data on job destruction and increased unemployment. This has been happening since 2008, in the early stages of the financial crisis, and only with the exception of 2021 in the case of unemployed people, which decreased as a result of the rebound after the worst of the pandemic. In 2023, in a year-on-year comparison, the balance was also negative, although only minimally: 11,100 fewer workers. 780,000 jobs were created that yearthe second largest annual increase since 2005.

The one published this Friday is the second worst job destruction data of the decade since 2014, only surpassed by that of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020, when 285,600 jobs were destroyed. In total, in the first quarter of the year, from January to March, there were almost three million unemployed people in Spain, according to EPA data, 2,977,900. The figure is higher than the 2.8 million of the previous period, but lower than if compared to the same months as a year before, when 3.1 million unemployed were registered and the unemployment rate stood at 13.3. %. In the report published now this is placed at 12.9%, one point less than a year ago, but 0.54 more than three months ago.

In absolute terms, unemployment has increased in this first quarter by 117,100 people, compared to 104,700 a year ago or 66,000 in 2022. In addition, it is female workers who bear the majority of unemployment. Employment decreased by 52,900 men and 86,800 women, with the most affected sectors being services, with 56,100 fewer workers after the Christmas campaign; industry, which was reduced by 38,500 people; agriculture, with 27,600; and construction, where 17,500 jobs were destroyed.

Employment, however, remains above 21 million employed people, a mark that was surpassed in the second quarter of 2023 and, in year-on-year terms, increased by 615,800 people, 2.98% more. The data shown in the following graph is adjusted to the recent revision of the EPA series. This explains the 21.4 million employees in the last quarter of 2023, which was not expressed this way in the survey data published in January, where it was indicated that there were 21.2.

By type of contract, what can be seen in the survey is that job destruction is sustained in temporary contracts, a trend that has continued since 2021, and in the self-employed. In the last quarter, 103,000 permanent jobs have been created, while 173,000 temporary jobs and another 70,000 non-salaried jobs have been destroyed. It is the first time since there are records that the number of employees with a temporary contract falls below three million – there are 2.8 -, while those with permanent contracts continue to rise and now stand at 15.2 million.

In the last year, full-time employment has increased by 615,800 people, with equal increases between women and men, of 314,000 and 301,800 respectively. This represents, in total, almost 3% more than at the start of 2023. Of that figure, half a million correspond to full-time contracts, compared to 114,700 that were part-time. In addition, permanent employment grew by 814,300 people and temporary employment fell by 220,100.

As can be seen in the graph below, temporary employment is at historic lows, below 16% for the first time on record. This trend began with the entry into force of the labor reform, in 2022.


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