Spain has 1.5 million long-term unemployed

by Lorraine Williamson
long-term unemployed

Long-term unemployment remains a challenge for the Spanish labour market. Spain has not managed to get this figure below 1 million for 13 years. Mainly women, the elderly and people with a low level of education have been unemployed for more than a year. 

Spain currently has 1.5 million people who are long-term unemployed, ie; people who have not been in paid work for more than a year. Research by Asempleo, the employers’ association of employment and employment agencies in Spain, shows that the majority of the long-term unemployed are women, people over 55 and people with a low level of education. 

High long-term unemployment rate despite post-crisis job growth 

According to Asempleo, the high percentage of long-term unemployed proves it is difficult to find a job in Spain. This is despite the fact that a significant number of jobs have been created twice in recent years; after the financial crisis between 2014-2019 and after the pandemic in 2021-2022. 

Research by Asempleo shows that the longer someone is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job. For example, in the first quarter of 2022, an unemployed person who had been unemployed for less than 1 year was almost three times more likely to find a job quickly than someone with the same profile but unemployed for more than 1 year. 

Profile of the long-term unemployed in Spain 

Age appears to be an important factor when it comes to success in finding work. Two in three unemployed men over the age of 55 have been unemployed for more than a year. Women also experience more problems finding work than men. 50% of unemployed women have been unemployed for more than a year, compared to 44% of unemployed men. Furthermore, the difference between men and women widens after women reach around 40 years-of-age.  This is the age at which many women become or have just become mothers. 

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Finally, the level of education plays a role: 52% of unemployed people who only went to school until the compulsory school age are long-term unemployed. This percentage is 43% among unemployed people who have a university degree. These figures underline the importance of lifelong learning. This is especially essential for older people to be able to continue developing along with the digitization process within the labour market. 

Spain average within Europe 

While Spain has the highest unemployment rate in all of Europe (13.5% at the end of 2021), it is not the Spaniards who are at the top when it comes to long-term unemployment. According to Eurostat data, 42.8% of Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 74 have been unemployed for more than a year at home. 

This percentage is still average compared to Slovakia (68%), Greece (65%), Italy (61%) and Portugal (48%). Denmark and the Netherlands are at the other end of the ranking with an average of 20% of unemployed people who have been out of work at home for more than a year. 

Also read: Spain exceeds 4 million unemployed

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