Intense, diverse unemployment

Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation

7 September 2009

Soaring unemployment figures in Spain are hitting jobs across the board, but certain factors make it more likely to affect specific people and sectors.

The extended and generalized nature of unemployment in Spain, currently standing at 4,000,000, is having the same effect as a pandemic. The fact that it has exceeded all forecasts and it is having such a marked impact means the number of unemployed weighs on our mind and shrouds the immediate future in all kinds of fears and concerns. However, sometimes we have to stand back to get a better view of the diversity that lies beneath the figures. Unemployment is a generalized problem, but it affects specific people, occupations and territories in different ways.

With regard to gender, it has affected men more than women, bringing the respective figures closer together (today there is only one point difference between them: 17% men and 18% women).

As far as nationality is concerned, it has affected a greater percentage of foreigners (28%) than native Spaniards (15%), not only because "outsiders" comprise a larger percentage of active population, but also because the kind of jobs usually given to immigrants have been particularly affected by unemployment.

In terms of age, the shortage of work has grown in every group, but the worst affected are men and women aged between 25 and 54 years, who represent the highest volumes of workers.

With regard to production sectors, the crisis in the field of construction has wiped out 450,000 jobs in one single year, taking with it a further 600,000 workers in the services sector.

And, in terms of regions, the South, especially Andalusia and Extremadura, has been more affected than the North.

The threat of unemployment hangs over everyone. However, the most likely profile of a candidate for unemployment would be that of a young adult male, foreign, working in the construction or services sector and living in the south of Spain.

The least likely would be a woman who is a Spanish national, working in industry, and living in the north of the country.
Please consider this summary as a mere snapshot of a reality that is much more complex. However, just in case, and if at all possible, maybe we should all try to place ourselves in the best possible position to weather the storm.

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