Unemployment in Spain

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Map of unemployment by province. Unemployment is a big problem in the south and west of Spain, especially in the least industrialized zones and the areas that were exposed most to the Spanish property bubble.[citation needed]

Though unemployment is a general problem for the whole world, the degree of unemployment in Spain is especially high in respect to the other countries in the region at the same economic level.

After reaching a minimum of 8% between 2006 and 2007, with the Spanish economic crisis that began in 2008 the rate of unemployment grew quickly exceeding 20% in 2010 and 25% in 2012[1][2] and unemployment became the greatest concern[3] within Spanish society. Even though unemployment in some regions of Spain is fairly less than in others, the general amount is one of the highest in the European Union and in general has stayed like that independently of the economic situation. Almost 100,000 people have lost their jobs in the real estate industry in Spain.[4]


Spain suffers a high level of structural unemployment. From the economic and financial crisis of the 1980s, unemployment has never dipped below 8%. Spain is the OECD country with the highest unemployment rate, ahead of Ireland and Greece. The main causes are an economy based mostly on tourism and building sectors, and lack of industry. The most industrialised region is Basque Country (where industry is around 20–25% of its GDP); its unemployment rate is 2.5 times lower than those of Andalusia and Canary Islands (where industry is only 5–10% of their respective GDP). In the last thirty years the Spanish unemployment rate has hovered around double the average of developed countries, both in times of growth as in crisis. From the start of the crisis of the 1990s, unemployment fell from 3.6 million to two million, but that figure stagnated throughout the good times to the present crisis.


Socio-economic consequences[edit]

Unemployment is reducing household income and therefore their quality of life focusing on domestic consumption. The mental health of the unemployed and their families deteriorates. The emancipation period is extended and therefore decreases the birth rate—given the impossibility of forming a family with minimal economic guarantees. Social exclusion is triggered, evictions caused by the crisis increases, also increase the defaults on basic bills increasing the number of energetic poverty. This energetic poverty prevents families paying bills for basic supplies such as water, electricity and gas.

International impact[edit]

The dramatic situation of unemployment in Spain, and its consequences not only continuously open the editions of Spanish media, but have also cornered the main pages of the most important international media.

Unemployment rate[edit]

It is obtained through a procedure known as Economically Active Population Survey. In fact, it is a survey made every three months to some homes about their recent work history. The survey divides the population of 16 years or more in four groups:

  • Occupied people: Those who have carried out paid work, as well as those that have jobs but are absent because of illness, strikes or holiday.
  • Unemployed: are the people that are not occupied, but that they have sought work actively or are waiting to return to work. More exactly, 1) a person is unemployed if he/she is not working and has made specific efforts to find employ during the last four weeks; 2) has been suspended from employment and is waiting to be called new or 3) is waiting to occupy a job the following month.
  • Inactive: This category includes the percentage of adult population that is studying, does household chores, is retired, is too sick to work or if is simply not looking for work.
  • Active Population: includes persons who are both employed and the unemployed.

The unemployment rate is calculated as the number of unemployed workers divided into the active population, and it is expressed as a percentage. In other words, it is not a proportion between the total of the unemployed people and the total population, but economically active people.

See also[edit]


This article was adapted from the equivalent Spanish-language Wikipedia article on April 20, 2013.

External Links[edit]

Spain Umemployment Spain records sharpest fall in unemployment since adopting the euro