The Number Of People Out Of Work Fell By 13,528 In February

4 March 2015 – El Mundo

The construction and industrial sectors were the main drivers behind job creation, once again.

The labour market offered a breath of fresh air yesterday, after starting the year on a bad note. The number of people out of work decreased by 13,538 in February, the largest drop in this month for 14 years; and the number of people registered with Social Security increased by 96,909, the best figure in this month since 2007, according to the Ministry for Employment. The construction and industrial sectors were the main drivers behind job creation.

Traditionally, February tends to be a strange month for employment, with highs and lows, and since 2008, when we began to feel the first effects of the crisis, unemployment has always increased in this month, except for last year when the figures decreased by 1,949 people. This year, the number of unemployed people decreased by 13,538 in February. Despite this decrease, the number of people out of work in Spain is still worryingly high, with more than 4,512,123 people registered with the Public Employment Services (formerly Inem). This figure is even higher than the one Mariano Rajoy inherited when he arrived at La Moncloa for the first time.

By sector, unemployment increased in the agriculture sector only in February (by 467 people), whilst it decreased in construction (10,091), industry (6,535) and the service sector (233).

In light of this data, the Government is optimistic and confident that it will achieve its objective of creating three million new jobs by 2019. Currently, the total number of people in paid work amounts to 16,672,222.

The increase of almost 100,000 new taxpayers in February partly offset the significant decrease in the number of jobs in January, when the number of taxpayers decreased by 200,000, following the end of the Christmas season.

By sector, construction – one of the hardest hit by the crisis – was where the most jobs were created (26,968), together with industry (15,097). Meanwhile, the service sector registered 61,842 more taxpayers, thanks to boosts from education (16,203) and hospitality (14,012).

However, the resurgence in the construction sector concerns the opposition party and the trade unions. The PSOE’s (Shadow) Secretary of State for Employment, Luz Rodríguez, says “the return to property could mean that we exit the crisis through the same door that we entered it”.

In terms of the number of contracts, 1,226,950 contracts were registered in February, up 12.5% compared with the same month last year. Nevertheless, the majority (more than 90%) were still temporary. Only 120,181 contracts were permanent, equivalent to 9.8% of the total number. Nevertheless, the Ministry for Employment highlighted that these figures are 23% higher than in January last year.

In terms of the number of hours worked, 71,754 of the permanent contracts were for full-time positions (16,804 more than in the previous year, an increase of 30.58%) and 48,527 were part-time (5,673 more than in February 2014, an increase of 13.24%).

However, these figures are not good enough for the trade unions UGT and CCOO, which report that the jobs that are being created are “precarious” and “low quality” and that the wages are “clearly insufficient”. Moreover, they point out that the inequalities between men and women are increasing and that young people are being left behind. Thus, whilst the unemployment rate decreased for men in February (with 19,587 fewer unemployed men than in January), they increased for women (with 6,319 more unemployed women), taking the total number of unemployed men and women to 2,117,980 and 2,394,173, respectively.

Furthermore, the number of unemployed young people under the aged of 25 increased by 2,569, and the number of foreign unemployed people increased by 3,030. In the opinion of the USO trade union, these figures show that “the recovery in terms of unemployment is not on the right track”.

By autonomous region, Madrid was the community where unemployment increased the most in the month of February, by 2,411 people to be exact; followed by Andalucía, with 2,121 more unemployed people and Castilla-La Mancha with 139. Meanwhile, unemployment decreased in 14 autonomous communities.

In terms of the coverage rate, i.e. the percentage of unemployed people that receive benefits or allowances, it continued to decrease in an alarming way.

During the month of January – the latest month for which data is available – it amounted to 56.49%, i.e. five points lower than in the same month in 2013. This means that almost one in every two unemployed people registered with the former Inem, does not receive any kind of financial aid. Moreover, total spending on benefits amounted to €1,962 million in January, which represented a 17.7% decrease compared with the same month last year.

Original story: El Mundo (by Isabel Munera)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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