Young people with a future

Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation

8 June 2010

Despite shocking unemployment figures, particularly among the young, Spain’s low birth rate means that the under 25s have a much brighter future in terms of work.

We´re worried about our young people, and so we should be. The crisis has a significant effect on their levels of employment (and unemployment) and means that their situation is often very uncertain because many of them cannot find employment and a lot of them work in jobs they don´t want, are not safe, poorly paid or have clearly little to do with their training and qualifications.

The latest survey of Spain’s active population (first quarter of 2010) shows that 1.05 million young people in Spain aged between 20 and 24 are working, and 604,200 remain unemployed. The overall employment rate of this age group stands at 63%. Meanwhile, 39% of men in the same age group are unemployed, and 33% of women.br />
And the situation is particularly damaging if we bear in mind that there are fewer young people today than there were 20 years ago. In 1991, there were 5.2 million people between the ages of 18 and 25 years thanks to the baby boom generations. In 2009, there were only 4.4 million as a result of the subsequent fall in the birth-rate. And the figure would be even lower if it were not for the immigration of almost 800,000 people in that age bracket in recent years.
There is indeed a paradox in the inverse ratio where the lower the number of young people, the higher the number of unemployed young people.

And the situation of relative shortage is to get worse. In 10 years´ time, there will be 650,000 young people (18-25) less. The problem will not be how to find work. They will find a job much more easily. The most important effect on labour will be the heavy imbalance between those who join the employment market (few) and those who leave it (many as a result of the baby boom generations reaching retirement age). The future of the pension system will therefore depend inexorably on demographics.

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