Unemployment in Spain at lowest point since 2008 in May

by Lorraine Williamson
May unemployment

Unemployment fell more in May this year than in May 2023. Adjusted for seasonal effects, registered unemployment rose by 4,485 people.

Since the beginning of the comparable historical series in 1996, unemployment has fallen 27 times and risen twice in May. This was in 2020, when unemployment rose by 26,573 people due to the Covid crisis, and in 2008, when unemployment rose by just over 15,000 unemployed people due to the financial crisis. On the other hand, the largest decrease in a month of May was in 2021, with 129,378 fewer unemployed.

In the past year, unemployment has accumulated by 131,260 unemployed, which is 4.8% less than the previous year. Among women, unemployment fell by 5.08% (84,143). For men, there was a decrease of -4.3% (47,117)

Largest decline in services sector

Unemployment fell in all sectors of the economy in May. The decline was largest in the services sector, with 44,467 fewer unemployed (-2.3%). This was followed by the construction sector, with 3,867 fewer unemployed (-1.9%), manufacturing, where unemployment fell by 3,715 people (-1.8%), and agriculture, with 2,249 fewer unemployed (-2.4%). Unemployment also fell among the former unemployed (-4,352, -1.7%). Migrant unemployment decreased by 8,049 compared to the previous month (-2.2%). The total number of unemployed immigrants stood at 352,051, 2,290 fewer than a year earlier (-0.6%).

Differences between sexes

In May, unemployment fell slightly more among women than among men. Female unemployment fell by 31,954 women compared to April (-2%). The decrease in male unemployment was 2.5% (26,696).

The total number of unemployed women at the end of May was 1,570,884. This is the lowest level in a May month since 2008, while that of men totalled 1,036,966 unemployed.

Unemployment in different age groups

Broken down by age, unemployment among young people under the age of 25 fell by 4.8% in May, with 9,007 fewer unemployed than at the end of April. Unemployment among the over-25s fell by 49,643 (-2%).

After the decline in May, the total number of unemployed fell below 25 to 179,075, which is a record low. The number of unemployed over the age of 25 was 2.42 million.

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Unemployment down in all autonomous communities and provinces

Registered unemployment fell in all autonomous communities in May. The largest monthly decreases were recorded in Andalucia (-15,585 unemployed), Catalonia (-6,248 unemployed) and Madrid (-5,586).

Unemployment fell in all provinces, led by Madrid (-5,586 unemployed), Malaga (-4,198) and Barcelona (-3,936).


In May of this year, 1,339,653 contracts were registered, 5.1% less than in the same month of 2023. Of these, 576,080 were permanent contracts, 7.8% less than a year earlier. Overall, 43% of contracts signed in May were open-ended. This percentage is more than 1% lower than in April. At that time, the share of open-ended contracts was 44.12%.

Of the permanent contracts, 227,091 full-time contracts were signed in May. That is 9.4% less than in the same month last year. 217,862 open-ended contracts were signed (-7% year-on-year) and 131,127 open-ended contracts for part-time work (-6.2%). Of all the contracts signed in May, there were 763,573 temporary contracts, which is 3% less than in the same month of 2023. In total, these contracts accounted for 57% of hires in the fifth month of the year.

Just over 6 million contracts were signed through the end of May, which is 1.9% less than in the same period of 2023. Of these, 2.67 million were permanent contracts, 4.4% less. The number of temporary contracts increased slightly. There were 3.38 million temporary contracts, 0.2% more than in the same period last year.

Unemployment benefits

The total number of recipients of unemployment benefits was 1,735,535 people at the end of April, 2.2% more than in April 2023. Expenditure on unemployment benefits in April 2024 was €1.84 billion (latest data available). This is 6.9% more than in the same month of 2023.

The average gross amount of premium payment received per beneficiary was €979.8 last April. An increase of €29.1 compared to the same month last year (+3.1%). The funding ratio, which was 64.9% last year, rose to 69.55% in April 2024, the highest this month since 2011. The benefit data is always one month behind the unemployment data.

Also read: March unemployment figures have not been as low since 2008

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