May data: Unemployment falls below three million for the first time since 2008 after falling by 100,000 people in May | Economy

Figures traditionally change surnames, but rarely names. And the last time the number of unemployed changed its first digit was in November 2008, since then it has always been above three million. Until now: in May, unemployment stood at 2,922,911 people, the lowest number in the last 14 years, thanks to the fact that nearly 100,000 unemployed found work during the fifth month of the year. The total number of affiliates to Social Security also grew by 214,000 workers, and was placed again, for the second consecutive period, above 20 million (20,232,723, exactly), in non-seasonalized terms.

Neither the scars of the pandemic, much less the exorbitant rise in prices as a result of the war in Ukraine ―which put inflation in May at 8.7%―, seem capable of slowing down the dynamism of the labor market, which has been progressively reducing the number of unemployed people since the beginning of the year (-200,167), oblivious to the uncertainty of the international scene. Each time, moreover, with longer steps: the fall with respect to the calculation for April was 99,512 people, the highest so far this year (-3.29%).

In a month that has been located in the wake of Holy Week hiring and in the prelude to the summer campaign, most of the contracts sealed in May continued to be given in the services sector (1,176,030), followed by agriculture (200,047), industry (168,738) and construction (95,780). The fact that the last festivities fell in the final stretch of the month of April (from the 10th to the 17th) has resulted in the contracts that were made then being extended to May, and may extend until the summer campaign, which points to record records.

As analyzed by José Luis Escrivá, Minister of Social Security, this impermeability is due to the fact that economic agents “are taking the disturbances of the war and energy prices as a temporary and transitory episode.” An assessment to which María Jesús Montero, Minister of Finance, joined: “After a pandemic and the economic consequences of a war, that the labor market has this behavior, speaks very clearly that the economy continues to grow, that it is robust , and that together we are managing to sustain the productive fabric in Spain. Something fundamental for the well-being of Spaniards and the economy”.

The decline in unemployment is inevitably due to the increase in the number of contracts. In May, 1,640,595 labor relations were signed (190,502 more than in April), of which 730,427 were of an indefinite nature, the highest figure in the series, and a variable that has not stopped growing since the entry into force of the labour reform. Of these contracts, 291,308 were full-time, 264,524 permanent and 174,595 part-time. Despite the predominance of the last two modalities, the accumulated number of permanent full-time contracts between the months of January and May reaches 1,156,558, 133% more than in the same period of 2021. “The data for May They show us that quantity of employment and quality can go hand in hand”, assured Joaquín Pérez Rey, Secretary of State for Employment.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.


Despite the fact that the fall in unemployment affects the different groups of workers, it is, singularly, young people under 25 who have reached the lowest levels of unemployment, settling below 200,000 people (199,920), the lowest level low since there are records. By gender, however, there are still more unemployed women than men (1,740,982 compared to 1,182,009), despite the fact that in the last year the reduction in unemployment has especially benefited women: 460,489 fewer unemployed were recorded. “Unemployment is walking in another direction. Much remains to be done, but the public policies that we are carrying out demonstrate their effectiveness”, congratulated the Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz.

The unions have celebrated the intersection of dynamics that the labor market is showing, although they have warned of the dysfunctionality that it still shows. “We must continue working along these lines, because we still have a significant rate of unemployment (13.3%) and temporary employment (24.1%). We are on the right track and the labor reform, without a doubt, is a key element to put an end to this situation”, point out CC OO sources. UGT, in the mouth of its general secretary, Pepe Álvarez, has recalled that despite being “clearly positive” unemployment data, it is urgent that “the wealth generated in companies be distributed” through an increase in wages that is included in the collective agreements.

The Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), however, warns that the high unemployment rate (the highest in the European Union), “requires improving and reinforcing the transition mechanisms between unemployment and activity, through active employment policies and training throughout life”. The employers’ association of small and medium-sized companies, Cepyme, has positioned itself along the same lines, warning that “the good number of affiliations contrasts with the weak recovery of GDP, and, therefore, represents a serious loss of productivity”.

generalized discount

With respect to the data for April, all the productive sectors reduced their records in May. The greatest percentage reduction occurred in agriculture (5.92%), followed by construction (4.13%), industry (3.18%) and services (3.02%). And in terms of territorial distribution, the island communities are the ones that show outstanding figures in unemployment reduction in the last month: the Balearic Islands cut it by 13.63%, ahead of La Rioja (6.33%) and Extremadura ( 5.20%). On the podium of affiliations, it is again the Balearic territory that occupies the highest step, with a rise of 9.37% (48,565 more).

According to data provided by the Ministry of Social Security, May closed with an increase in enrollment of more than 33,000 jobs, in seasonally adjusted terms (that is, ignoring the seasonal effect), being the thirteenth consecutive month on the rise. And with this last addition, the level of employment, in these same terms, is already 539,226 workers higher than in February 2020, the last pre-pandemic month.

As with the fall in unemployment, the growth in affiliation has spread across all sectors, but it has been mainly the hospitality industry that has presented the greatest increase in affiliation in May, with 83,427 new affiliations (6.22%), ahead of agriculture (3.46%) and artistic, recreational and entertainment activities (1.98%).

This recovery of economic activity, the result of the disappearance of the restrictions that constrained it, has also allowed that for another month, and now there are five, the number of self-employed workers, one of the most vulnerable groups, has increased again to reach 3,343,362 (10,726 more). “With the situation that a large part of the companies and the self-employed are currently experiencing, it seems like a miracle that this path of growth continues,” analyzed Lorenzo Amor, president of the National Federation of Associations of Self-Employed Workers (ATA).

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