Unemployment rises again in February and sets off the alarms of the economic slowdown


The number of unemployed has grown in Spain for the second consecutive month, although this slowed down its advance in February and only adds 2,618 people to the unemployment lists, compared to the 70,744 people who lost their jobs in the first month of the year. However, this data triggers all the alarms about the arrival of the dreaded economic slowdown, while the economic recession is ruled out on the horizon. The government hoped to find a lifeline in employment data after a further rise in inflation and escalating debt. Minister Yolanda Díaz has admitted that this result is negative, but she has been prudent when predicting a bad evolution in the coming months, in the interview given to the SER network on Thursday morning.

In total, 2,911,015 citizens were unemployed as of February 31, 2023, with Agriculture being the sector that concentrated almost half of the increase, with 1,138 new unemployed. February is usually a positive month after the blow that January entails in terms of employment and although the increase moderates, there is no drop in job destruction. On the other hand, in February 2022 it was like that, despite the fact that the year-on-year comparison is positive, with a drop of 200,669 people in twelve months. In fact, it is the second month of the year with the lowest total number of unemployed since 2008.

According to the data published this Thursday by the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy, it stands out that there has been a significant increase in job seekers who did not previously have a position, of 4.10%, more than 10,139 people. With respect to the sectors, agriculture is especially hit in the middle of a dispute over the rise in food prices and after companies in the sector have denounced the increase in costs derived from the rise in the Minimum Wage. However, February is usually a warm month for this sector. Instead, the Services (-0.19%), Industry (-1.02%) and Construction (-1.07%) have experienced an improvement in the last month, despite the general rise in prices in which energy has once again been the protagonist.

Also, February reflects a halt in hiring. During the second month of 2023, 1,084,802 agreements have been signed, which represents a drop of 24.88% compared to the same month of 2022. However, this data should not have to be negative, given that a constant increase in signatures could indicate that permanent contracts are being used as a patch at the end of the temporary ones and proceeding to the dismissal during the trial period. In February, 493,200 permanent contracts have been signed, which represent 45.46% of the total, which represents an improvement compared to January, when they represented 44.16% of the firms. However, these contracts still do not account for half of the total number of agreements.

New rise in discontinuous fixed

Nearly one in two new contracts are full-time (46.76%), although discontinuous permanent ones have an important weight for one more month, since they represent 28.65% of the firms. The progress of the latter compared to 2022 is especially noteworthy, since the increase has been 196.93%, while full-time or part-time contracts are up around 30% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the sharp drop in temporary hiring stands out, with more than half a million difference compared to the month of January (-47.52%) and more than 1,200,000 compared to the same period of 2022 (-49.21 %). However, 591,602 agreements of this type have still been signed, among which full-time contracts predominate.

On the other hand, the data released by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations They question the economic slowdown that they ventured in January, with 88,918 more affiliates as of February 28 than the previous month. This record is also positive in comparison with February 2022, since the positive difference is more than 475,870 affiliates. In total, the Social Security portfolio has recorded 20,170,142 people affiliated to the last day of the month, despite registering nearly 90,000 casualties this Wednesday. While the seasonally adjusted data that takes into account the variations in employment depending on the time of year analyzed also reflects an improvement of 0.4% compared to the month of January.

The Government has highlighted this Thursday that there are 140,000 more employed since the beginning of the year and that in the last month employment has grown at a rate much higher than the average of the last three months. Specific, it is the “high added value” sectors that drive employment, and one in four affiliates joins these sectors. Something that reflects the 20% increase in the number of IT and telecommunications affiliates or the 11.8% growth in the last month of affiliations in Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities. The Ministry of José Luis Escrivá has also “puffed up” the labor reform and has pointed out that its positive effects go through the stabilization of employment and the improvement of its quality.

Regarding the reduction in temporary employment, the case of those under 30 years of age stands out, among whom this has fallen by more than 30 points, going from 53% to 22%. However, it is difficult to determine if the contracts of this age range end during the trial period, since the disaggregated data is not published. although, already there are 2.5 million members with an indefinite contract more than in December 2021, at the time of the entry into force of the labor reform promoted by the portfolio of Yolanda Díaz. In this line, the Executive highlights that one in two temporary contracts becomes indefinite, according to February data.

Slight recovery of the self-employed

After a dramatic January, The Special Scheme for Self-Employed Workers (RETA) total 3,448 affiliates that in no case come to compensate for the drop of more than 20,800 self-employed registered at the beginning of the year. However, in the interannual perspective there is no place for celebrations with more than 4,600 less self-employed workers than in February 2022. This is one of the groups that have shown the most discontent with the Government, after this incorporate an increase in the contribution base which has caught the self-employed by surprise, as the president of ATA, Lorenzo Amor, has denounced on various occasions. In addition, February represents the second month with the new RETA in force, through which the self-employed have started to quote on based on your estimated monthly income.

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