Lowest rise in unemployment since 1998 in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – The unemployment figure of people registered with the Spanish employment office (formerly INEM) rose by 17,173 (+0.5%) in January, the lowest increase in the January month since 1998, when unemployment rose by 10,285.

January is a month when unemployment usually rises due to the end of the festive season. Since 1997, the year in which the comparison of historical series began, unemployment in January has increased. This year’s January figure is the second-best in the whole series, after that of 1998.  

January’s increase ends nine consecutive months of decline in unemployment. It also brings the total number of unemployed to 3,123,078, according to data published Wednesday by Spain’s Labour Ministry.  

Seasons and sectors 

Taking into account a seasonal adjustment, registered unemployment fell by 75,210 in January this year. In the past year, unemployment has reached a record low of 841,275 unemployed people: a drop of 21.2%. In January, unemployment increased in the service sector. Here, some 33,627 people were added to the unemployment register (+1.5%). Also, in agriculture, where 2,657 people became unemployed (+1.8%).  

In contrast, the number of unemployed without a job decreased by 9,386 (-3.7%). The construction sector saw a decrease of -7,304 unemployed (-2.8%), and the industry sector, a decrease of 2,421 unemployed (-0.9%).  


In January, 1,596,332 contracts were registered. That represents 22.6% more than in the same month of 2021. Of these, 238,672 were open-ended contracts. Therefore, this makes it the best January employment figure in the whole series. However, conversions of temporary contracts are not included.  

The number of permanent contracts is 92.2% higher than in January 2021. This represents 15% of the total number of contracts in the first month of the year. According to the Ministry, this proves that the labour reform, which has been in force since the end of 2021, has given a boost to stable recruitment. The ministry also reported that according to the latest available data, the expenditure on ERTE benefits of employees in December 2021 was €82 million, the lowest figure since the introduction of the scheme. 

Social Security contributors 

The number of social security contributors in January decreased by an average of 197,750 contributors compared to December (-1%). This is the smallest decline in a January month since 2018, when the number of contributors fell by just over 178,000 contributors. In the months of January 2019, 2020 and 2021, the loss of contributors was around 200,000.  

Unemployment after Christmas season 

January is a month when employment tends to decline due to the end of contracts for the Christmas period. Every January since 2001, jobs have been lost. This was most notably in 2009 when the financial crisis cost nearly 350,000 jobs.  

The number of workers protected by the temporary redundancy scheme ERTE, created in connection with Covid, was 105,043 at the end of January, almost 2,500 more than at the end of 2021. Compared to 31 October, this represents a decrease of more than 30,000 workers, the last date before the new ERTE schemes related to the pandemic came into force, the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration reported Wednesday.  

ERTE by sector 

Broken down by sector, ERTE workers remain heavily concentrated in the hospitality and tourism sectors. At the end of January, most workers (21,184) with an ERTE were in the food and beverage (hotels and catering) sector, followed by accommodation (16,307), travel agencies (10,792) and retail trade (9,616). In percentage terms, travel agencies and tour operators (28.9%); accommodation services (7.6%) and air transport (also 7.6%), had the most employees using the ERTE. 

Related post: https://inspain.news/unemployment-in-spain-down-by-20-in-2021/Unemployment down by 20% in 2021

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