Workers: Twenty million is many millions | Economy

Twenty million employed workers. Employment exhibits the best of the economic figures that have emerged in recent days. Not because it is brand new, but because it consolidates trend. It is the second quarter that the closure of the Active Population Survey exceeds that bar, and as it is said in law, two sentences form jurisprudence.

Nor is it the first year in which it has happened: it happened in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The sequence was broken by the Great Recession 2008/2011. It dropped in 2013 to 17 million. 26.06% unemployment of the active population. But on this occasion, one year was enough to recover the pre-crisis occupational level, instead of ten. And unemployment did not exceed 16.13% in 2020, once again improving the pre-crisis situation in 2021 (13.3%, against 13.78% in 2019).

In addition, right now the two large registries, that of the INE and that of Social Security, both consider that the bar of 20 million has been exceeded. More in favour: the figure for the end of the first quarter incorporates a problematic month, that of the war against Ukraine; the fringes of the pandemic; the last shot of fuel. With the consequent bad data of unemployment.

Except for some oscillation (or a catastrophe even worse than those registered since 2020), this figure becomes an invaluable labor mattress. From the beginning of a new pattern of growth, with less precarious jobs, more stable and therefore pressing towards a higher quality: to the rhythm of the entry into force of the labor reform —even shortly before—, the rate of permanent contracts exceeds 30% of the total, and will go to more. And the park of salaried jobs for others, almost 17 million, accounts for 13 million fixed.

Economically, it is also a platform that can become a springboard for productivity. Some emphasize that when employment recovers (despite the downside of unemployment in the first quarter) faster than GDP, global productivity drops: because the same unit of product requires more labor.

But the 20 million is a treasure. Precisely to increase productivity, the increase in the labor factor requires that it be accompanied by more capital, with more and better technology. It is almost available, by the European funds of the Recovery Plan. And if, according to Fedea calculations, at the moment they have arrived slowly —by 27%— to the real economy, the remaining impulse will have to increase the GDP with greater intensity.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.


Budget-wise, higher employment and lower unemployment reduce the cost of unemployment benefits: from the record of 32,237 million in 2010, to 22,093 million budgeted for 2022. They thus open up room to better face other expenses, such as the increase in pensions or the increase in the cost of servicing the public debt that one day —hopefully far away— will cause an increase in interest rates.

The maintenance of zero rates thanks to the ECB and the management of the Treasury by extending the life of the outstanding debt —up to 8.07 years this March (5.9 years in 2005)—, have lowered the burden of its bill: it was 38,590 million in 2013; 31,547 in 2018 and 31,675 in 2021. But having increased the amount in circulation by 220 billion, from 1.2 trillion in 2018 to 1.4 trillion in 2021! Cheap financing achievements difficult to repeat. Welcome therefore, also for that, the savings in unemployment expenses.

Grab the spyglass. The 20 million employed today were only 12.3 million at the beginning of democracy, in 1978. A dazzling progression. Then there was not a single Spanish multinational. Today there are 124 with business figures of over 750 million euros. Two sides of the same coin.

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