MADRID – At the end of 2020, 755,613 workers in Spain were eligible for a temporary employment adjustment scheme ERTE. This was 8,000 more in December than in the previous month. However, compared to April it was 80% less.
During the peak of the first wave of corona in April last year, 3.5 million workers in Spain were temporarily out of work. Minister José Luis Escrivá of Social Integration and Social Security said the number of temporary unemployed people has ‘stabilised’ since September last year, despite all the measures taken during the second corona wave.
Current ERTE schemes are still in force until 31 January. In case of an ERTE employers do not have to pay social security contributions for temporarily unemployed employees. Employees receive benefits under special circumstances. Whether ERTE will be extended after that depends on the results of the social consultation that will take place on Friday, January 8th.
Most temporarily lost jobs on the island groups
The highest percentage of ERTE schemes is for workers in the Canary Islands. This is due to the lack of tourists, and has therefore had the greatest impact. Firstly, in the province of Las Palmas, more than 45,000 employees continue to make use of the ERTE scheme. This accounts for 13% of the working population. Secondly, this is followed by Santa Cruz de Tenerife with more than 34,000 temporary unemployed employees. This equates to 11% of the working population.
The percentage of ERTE schemes is also high in the Balearic Islands at 9.9% of the working population. However, In Castellón (Valencia), Badajoz (Extremadura) and Guadalajara (Castile-La Mancha), less than 2% of the working population were protected against unemployment through a government scheme last year.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Employment announced that the Spanish government paid out 2.43 billion euro worth of benefits in November last year. And between December 2019 and November 2020, a total amount of 35.32 billion euro was paid out. More than 14 billion euro of this was spent on ERTE schemes.
In 2020, nearly 8.1 million Spaniards received benefits at some point to compensate for job losses, with a peak in May when nearly 6 million people received unemployment benefits. In 2020, the Seguridad Social lost around 360,000 contributory Spaniards, not including the temporarily unemployed with an ERTE scheme.
Largest increase in unemployment in December since 2009
Normally, the unemployment rate in Spain falls in the last month of the year. This is due to holidays, increased tourism and the olive harvest. Last year, however, the unemployment rate rose by 36,800 newly registered jobseekers in December. That is the largest increase from November since 2009.