The state of Spain’s labour market has been one of the biggest stories in the Eurozone over the last few years.
Basically, it’s a total disaster.
At the peak of the country’s unemployment crisis in mid-2013, more than 26% of adults in the labour market were out of work, and youth unemployment stood at an incredible 55.7%.
Spain’s economy is actually one of the quickest growing in the Eurozone, up by more than 3% in 2015, and things are looking up more generally, but beyond that, the country’s labour market is still in dire straits.
This week, despite Spain’s problems, Barclays economists Antonio Garcia Pascual and Apolline Menut released what, on the surface at least, looks like a pretty positive note about the country’s labour market.
In the note they call 2015 a “surprisingly strong year” for labour markets in Spain, and see hope for the future:
We expect the strong labour market dynamics to extend into 2016, albeit at a lower pace. The strong tail-winds of very accommodative monetary policy, cheap oil, and a slight increase in real wages will in all likelihood be maintained in the coming months. However, we expect a slowdown in private investment in H1 2016 as a result of increased political and policy risk.
For the medium term, we retain our view that the labour market remains one of Spain’s weakest spots, where additional reforms are needed to address excessive labour market duality, unacceptably high unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, and low productivity.
But while the note expresses hope for the future of Spain’s labour market, the charts in it strike a different tone, and Barclays calls unemployment “excessively high”.
Simply put, if we saw unemployment statistics like Spain’s anywhere else in Europe, they’d be absolutely horrific.
According to the latest figures from Eurostat, released on Thursday, Eurozone unemployment fell in November, and is now 10.5%, less than half of Spain’s unemployment rate of 21.4%. Only Greece has higher levels of people out of work right now.
Just take a look at it:
Clearly the labour market has started to improve a little in the country, but the unemployment rate is still more than 20%, and the number of those who have been unemployed in the long term is higher than at any point other than at the end of 2014.
The charts also show that whilst there has been a bit of a dip in the number of people who are unemployed, there are still around four million Spaniards who are unemployed right now:
That’s not exactly what you’d call great.
To put the Spanish numbers into perspective, the UK’s unemployment rate right now is around 5.2%, and just 1.8 million people are out of work, despite the UK having 18 million more citizens.
So while the jobs market in Spain is on the up, don’t expect full employment any time soon.