Spain jobless figures down significantly as crisis eases

Agence France-Presse
Spain jobless figures down significantly as crisis eases
The Spanish government counts 26,573 new jobseekers in May 2020, much lower than at the height of the coronavirus lockdown

MADRID, Spain – The number of new jobseekers in Spain was close to 27,000 in May, around 10 times lower than in March and April during the coronavirus lockdown, the labor ministry said on Tuesday, June 2. 

Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 14 to slow the spread of the virus, and that month it counted more than 302,000 new jobseekers and another 280,000 in April. 

But in May, as the lockdown was gradually eased, the government counted a total of 26,573 new jobseekers in the eurozone’s 4th largest economy, where the total number of unemployed stands at 3.8 million. 

At the end of March, the National Statistics Institute (INE), which calculates figures in a different way, gave Spain’s jobless figure as 3.31 million.

These figures do not count those who have been furloughed. 

Between mid-March and the end of May, a total of 3.7 million people were furloughed under a plan rolled out by the labor ministry. 

The leftwing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez banned layoffs and simplified access to such temporary unemployment programs in a bid to ease the impact of the crisis on employment. 

But when the furlough scheme draws to a close as planned at the end of June, unemployment figures could rise again. 

The government has urged there to be no job axed in the 6 months following the furlough period, but layoffs are expected. 

In May, as the lockdown was eased, the number of new jobseekers in the construction sector fell by almost 7% compared with April. 

In industry and agriculture, the figure remained stable but it grew by 1.5% in the service sector which has borne the brunt of the crisis, particularly due to the loss of significant numbers of temporary jobs in tourism.

In the 1st quarter, Spain’s unemployment rate jumped to 14.4%, INE figures showed. 

The International Monetary Fund estimates unemployment in Spain could soar to 20.8% in 2020, while the government expects a figure of 19%. –