Overview of Unemployment Issues in Spain and How COVID Impacted It

Spain is surely an appealing choice of vacation sites due to its extraordinary cuisines and attention-grabbing cultural aspects. In fact, one of the main industries in Spain is tourism; moreover, Spain displays its large foreign-tourist industry that is the second-largest among other countries, according to Reference. This significant industry was responsive to 11% of the country’s GDP according to the same source. Because the tourism industry is such a red-ocean business, CaixaBank stated that the business both “directly and indirectly employed 2.5 million people in 2015”, and this accounts for 16.2% of total employment at maximum. However, what makes Spain notorious for its unemployment problems? 

The country’s unemployment issues are recognized by the government and experts, which Marcel Jansen, a professional in labor markets, stated “unemployment above 20 percent is not uncommon in Spain” (Eavis). Nevertheless, impairing those existing problems were arduous tasks despite the government’s efforts because the causes for employment date way back to history. The stimulation of unemployment is due to temporary workers from the transition to the democratic era in 1970. Another noteworthy cause of unemployment is due to housing bubbles in the 2000s, and it has been noted that the elimination of housing bubbles also removed jobs. There are surely more elaborate reasons and catalysts of unemployment, but more important focus is on Spain’s ongoing high rates of unemployment.

As mentioned previously, Spain’s prime industry is tourism. Due to covid lockdown, tourism rates simultaneous dropped, and it can be reasonably inferred that Spain’s employment rates were influenced as well. Not only for tourism industries but also for other prevailing businesses in Spain, Covid 19 has brought recession in the economy and labor markets. Employment in Spain was more explicitly impacted due to Covid because it mostly consists of temporary contracts. Covid 19 deteriorated “218,953 jobs and 76,216 more people were out of work” (Pérez). 

What were the government’s policies or attempts to address the issues of unemployment in Spain? The policies targeted at both youths and the retired. For the retired, the government launched “The Active Ageing Law” which is aimed at the re-entrance of work by the means of incentives. Spain’s labor market is extremely low on youth employment; in fact, “only 2.8% of total beneficiaries were under 25 in 2015”. In order to address this issue, the government promoted “The Strategy for Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment 2013-2016”. These steps were aimed to help to increase youth employment and “self-employment”. Other than these measures, other ongoing steps and policies were made to bring people into the workforce and improve employment rates such as “The Spanish Employment Activation Strategy for 2014-2016” (Homs).

Spain’s high unemployment rates and issues are infamous, yet several government measures and policies were adopted to decrease the rates and avert the difficulties. However, the present condition of Covid 19 deteriorates and worsens the issues and hinders the effectiveness of measures.

By: Jiyoon Ryu