Spain Leads Europe for Decline in Unemployment


THE first half of the year has closed with Spain leading European countries for the greatest decline in unemployment. Spain began the year with 13 per cent unemployment and ended in June with 11.7 per cent, according to the Eurostat, as of Tuesday, August 1.

Upward Trend

The Eurostat published its results and on a positive note, Spain is only surpassed by Cyprus for the greatest decline in figures this year, which registered a decrease of 4.8 per cent in the first semester of 2023. The theme of unemployment and youth unemployment occupied a good part of the debate in the electoral campaign, between those who believe that we are at “historic lows” and those who believe that we have the worst figures in the European Union.

For a long time, Spain has held onto the reputation of being the EU country with the highest level of unemployment, but this looks set to change with recent unprecedented growth in employment. However, the Spanish unemployment rate is still almost double the European average, and a lot more work needs to be done to amend the situation.

High Youth Unemployment

Spain also has the reputation of being the country with the highest youth unemployment, however, youth unemployment remains the highest in Europe. This semester, the number of unemployed young people under 25 years of age registered with the Public State Employment Service (SEPE) plummeted to its second all-time low by falling to 184,491 applicants.

As of June, more than one in four young people under the age of 25 wanted to work but were unable to. This represents a figure of 27.4 per cent, and though this has decreased by 2.3 points between January and June, the European average is almost half of the Spanish rate at 14.1 per cent.

The European Commission reports that this semester, European unemployment sits at 5.9 per cent and has remained at a stable low rate throughout the first half of 2023.

But Why is Unemployment So High?

There are many factors that play a role in the high unemployment rates in Spain, one of the main factors is the impact of the last economic crisis which has resulted in stagnant wages that have not risen in line with inflation. Businesses shuttering after being hit by the financial crisis and the pandemic, and the lack of incentive for entrepreneurship from the government also lead to a loss in potential job generation.

Another reason is the talent drain and stagnant employment sectors, Spain is losing many qualified and talented people who seek work abroad because their sector does not show development potential.

Seasonal work is also a huge sector in Spain, with employment increasing in summer and the Christmas holidays, these figures may reflect an increase in employment, but it is only temporary.

Finally, the move towards online commercial activities leads to the closure of small businesses and neighbourhood shops that are unable to pit themselves against giants such as Amazon. As a result, consumer demands are also shaping the employment landscape in Spain.

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Written by

Lisa Zeffertt

Lisa is British, born in Hong Kong and has lived in many countries including the UK, Hong Kong, Cyprus, and Thailand, Spain has been her home for the past 10 years. After graduating with a BA in English Literature and Art History, she has worked in different sectors, most recently as a ghostwriter and translator for six years Writing is one of her passions, as well as working in both Spanish (fluent) and English.


    • Rudi

      03 August 2023 • 02:02

      Misleading headline is clickbait! Spain has the highest unemployment in EU. This so called improvement is a statistical anomaly not worthy of being a headline. Why are you supporting this misleading info the Socialist are pushing to excuse their terrible economic policies?

      • John Smith

        03 August 2023 • 12:02

        Rudi, you are of course entitled to your opinion but the title can hardly be called clickbait when it reflects reality. Unemployment may still be high but surely it is encouraging to be able to compare the rate of decline with other EU member states?

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