The Spanish labor market broke a new ceiling last summer and reached the historical maximum of 21.26 million people working, according to data from the Active Population Survey (EPA) published this Thursday. Between July and September, employment increased by 209,100 workers, more than in the pre-pandemic years, and unemployment increased, something not very common but which also happened last year, by 92,700 people, influenced by a great boom in the active population (willing to work).

Specifically, the total number of workers sets a new record of 21,265,900 employed people, while unemployment stood at 2,855,200 people.

In the last year, the creation of jobs significantly accelerated the pace compared to the second quarter of the year, from 2.9% to 3.5%, which translated into 720,100 more people with employment compared to the previous year.

By sex, employment increased this quarter by 130,500 men and 78,600 women, but in the last year there has been more push from female workers in the labor market: 272,600 men and 447,500 women joined. By nationality, the boom in employment among foreigners stands out (+146,600 people) in the summer, with this quarter reaching the maximum number of workers in the historical series: almost three million people, above the years of the bubble.

Summer is generally a good period for the job market. Jobs are created, thanks mainly to the push from tourism and hospitality, and unemployment is reduced. As a less common point, this year – as happened last year and in some other years – unemployment has increased despite the strong creation of jobs.

Many more people willing to work

This situation, although it seems contradictory, can happen if the labor market grows but is not capable of providing opportunities for all the people who want to work. In this sense, there is good news, the incorporation of many people into the active population, willing to have a job, which added more than 300,000 people in the third quarter.

Thus, the total active population stands at over 24.1 million people, “also a historical maximum, which shows citizens’ confidence in finding employment,” highlights the Ministry of Economy.

The unemployment rate thus rose two tenths compared to the previous quarter and stood at 11.84%, a figure that is at the lowest unemployment levels since 2008, at the beginning of the financial crisis. In the last year, unemployment has decreased by 125,000 people (–4.20%).

What stands out in the increase in unemployment this quarter is that a large part corresponds to people who are looking for their first job (40,900) or who have been looking for a job for a short time (less than three months, 88,300 people).

Temporary work, at a minimum

This summer, job creation after the labor reform goes hand in hand with an increase in permanent employment and, to a much lesser extent, temporary employment. Salaried employees grew by 266,000 this quarter: those with permanent contracts increased by 232,100 and those with temporary contracts increased by 33,900.

If we look back 12 months, the number of employees increased by 716,500, with an increase in permanent employment by 1.1 million people, reaching the historical maximum of almost 15 million workers with this type of contract in this last quarter . For its part, the storm decreased by 385,500 in the last year.

This evolution has caused a slight decrease in the temporary employment rate – temporary employment over the total – by seven hundredths to 17.26%. Percentage that is at a minimum after the legislation approved in the last legislature, which plummeted temporary work like never before.

The private sector pulls employment

Another feature of job creation this summer is the intense push by the private sector, which is the one that incorporates the most workers despite the context of economic slowdown and difficulties linked to inflation and rising interest rates. Employment increased by 192,200 people in the private sector and 17,000 in the public sector in the third quarter of the year.

If we look at what has happened in the last year, this push from private companies continues, in the face of a reduced incorporation of personnel into public administrations. Employment has increased by 691,600 people in the private sector and by 28,600 in the public sector in the last twelve months, an evolution that refutes the repeated criticism of the PP to detract from the employment boom with the government of Pedro Sánchez, on the makeup of the labor market thanks to public employment.

By sectors, the creation of jobs stands out in commerce (+90,700), the manufacturing industry (+86,700) and the hospitality industry (+47,500), among others. On the other hand, those whose number of workers decreased the most in summer were education (-162,000), the agricultural sector (-47,300) and professional, scientific and technical activities (-24,000).


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