Spain still European country with highest unemployment rate

by Lorraine Williamson
highest unemployment rate

MADRID – Despite the recovery in the labour market, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union. Only Greece has a percentage close to that of Spain but it is still lower at 13.4%.

At the end of November, Spain registered an unemployment rate of 14.1%, more than double the European average of 6.5%. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, unemployment has never been this low. And with 2.7% it ranks second after the Czech Republic (2.2%) of countries with the lowest unemployment. 

Most unemployed 

This is evident from data released by the European statistical office Eurostat on Monday. Spain was not only in the lead in November when it comes to the highest unemployment rate, but has been the European country with the highest unemployment for six months in a row. Also in absolute numbers, the most unemployed were registered in Spain at the end of November of last year. That was 3.2 million; this means that of the 10 unemployed from the Eurozone, 3 come from Spain. 

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Youth unemployment 

The situation in Spain is also worrying when looking at unemployment among young people. The unemployment rate in the age category up to and including 25 years is even 30%. That is the second-highest percentage in the EU, only in Greece is youth unemployment higher. About 500,000 young people are looking for a job in Spain. 

According to Eurostat data, Spain is not yet back to pre-coronavirus levels in terms of employment. At the end of February 2020, the unemployment rate was 13.8%, which is 0.3% lower than at the end of November 2021. It is very possible that with the figures from December 2021, a different situation arises. According to the Spanish government, there are now more contributors than before the start of the pandemic. However, it should be borne in mind that employees for whom an ERTE temporary unemployment scheme has been arranged are counted as contributory employees. 

Long-term problem 

If the temporarily unemployed are not taken into account, according to the Spanish think tank Funcas, another 100,000 people need to find a job to be back to the pre-pandemic level. Whichever way you look at it, with an unemployment rate that hasn’t fallen below 10% since 2008, it’s clear that Spain is facing a persistent problem that has major implications for the economy. 

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