Companies offered lower wages in 2021 despite recovery | Economy

Some workers, at their position in the washing machine factory that BSH has in La Cartuja (Zaragoza).
Some workers, at their position in the washing machine factory that BSH has in La Cartuja (Zaragoza).Javier Onion (EFE)

In 2020, the labor market in Spain became dehydrated as a result of the shock of the pandemic. 622,600 jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate stood at 16.13%, leaving 3.71 million people jobless. Despite the fact that in 2021 the health situation experienced up to three more waves of infections, with figures even worse than those of the previous year, the progressive easing of restrictions, together with the rise in vaccination, blew the first winds of economic recovery . However, the increase in the number of vacancies in companies caused a drop in wages, to the point that in 2021, the average gross annual salary offered by firms fell by 618 euros, 2.5% below the they proposed during the first year of the pandemic.

This is one of the main conclusions of the Annual Labor Market Report 2021 that Infojobs has prepared, together with the business school Esade, and released this Tuesday. In it, the job offer portal details that in 2021 it published a total of 2,274,383 ads, 49% more than in 2020. “Although last year there were intense restrictions, the last months of the year triggered the number of vacancies” , recognizes Antonio Gómez, commercial director of the firm. It is precisely this boom, justified by the recovery of activity by sectors mainly affected by the virus such as commerce, which led to a drop in wages offered by companies registered in Infojobs. According to his tables, in 2020 the average annual gross salary was 25,173 euros, while a year later it dropped to 24,555. “This figure, however, is above the records prior to the outbreak of the pandemic,” emphasizes Gómez, and that at that time it was 24,003 euros per year.

The decoupling between the increase in prices during the last two years, singularly, and salary increases has caused a loss of purchasing power of workers of 7%. According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, the wages agreed by agreement in 2021 rose by 1.5%, half the average inflation for that year, of 3.1%, as warned by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) . At this time, unions and employers are negotiating the renewal of the Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC), where work is being done to define a growth path for salaries over the next three years. Although it has not yet been defined, sources present at the meetings acknowledge differences when it comes to how to distribute these increases, and warn that a moderate increase could be agreed by 2022, reviewable in the following exercises.

fewer applicants

The Infojobs and Esade report also notes another of the peculiarities of the labor market in Spain, which reflects an obvious distortion between territories, especially between those in the north and south. In salary matters, once again the Community of Madrid is once again the one that offers the best salaries (26,525 euros gross per year), ahead of the Basque Country (25,460) and Catalonia (24,871). However, the autonomies that have experienced a higher increase compared to 2020 are Asturias (23,749) and Cantabria (21,967). These data respond to the characteristics of the advertisements published by the portal, and show better conditions offered by companies in the north of the country.

Regarding the number of job seekers per published advertisement, the figure fell in 2021, when an average of 53 people were registered per offer, 21 less than in 2020. The area with the most registered applicants was retail, that is, small businesses (270), while in information technology and telecommunications only 17 candidates per position signed up.

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Despite the fact that in the United States, the pandemic caused the abandonment of thousands of jobs, giving rise to a phenomenon dubbed “The Great Resignation”, Spain did not experience a replica. “It is true that the pandemic has worked as a catalyst for the effect derived from people rethinking the place that their profession occupies in their lives, a comparable impact is not observed,” indicates Mónica Pérez, director of Communication and Studies at Infojobs. According to the data they manage, while in 2020 27% of workers reconsidered their employment situation, in 2021 this percentage was lowered by five points (25%).

With the end of the first quarter of 2022 just around the corner, forecasts about the impact of the rise in energy prices caused by the Russian offensive in Ukraine are still uncertain, according to details from the employment portal. “We have been able to observe that at the beginning of the year we maintain the trend of the last months of the previous year, and that vacancies have even doubled compared to the same period of 2021. In March we have counted 250,000,” says Antonio Gómez, commercial director of the signature.

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