Hey! Unemployment dropped in the province! Break out the cava!

The latest figures from the social services office show that an additional 134.182 people signed onto the dole in October across Spain. The total number of people drawing the dole is now, officially,  4.360.926.

That’s just about the population of Eire, if anyone if keeping count (4.481.430).

The figures come a month after the official population survey showed that just under 5 million people were unemployed in Spain – that’s supposed to be people drawing the dole, as well as people who have finished the dole but are still looking for work. The 5 million is a ludicrous figure really, heavily massaged to keep it under the magic 5 million mark.

The good news? Unemployment in Almeria actually dropped last month – 436 people found a job! We’re the province with the greatest number of jobs being created last month in the whole of Spain. The bad news? We still have the highest unemployment rate in Europe, at around 35% in the province.

What cracks me up is how quietly the average Spaniard takes the news that unemployment is up again. Ah well, they seem to shrug, on the one hand you have the sun, the sea and the sangría, on the other you have unemployment. If you want a job, go north like our fathers did. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to get back to my work, in which I am paid in black. Too busy to stop here discussing the matter…

Seriously, the sang froid with which these figures are treated makes my blood run cold, when I stop and think about it. The national mood seems to be one of pessimism, one of “we’ve had it good for too long, now we’re going back to the way Spain has always been”. News shows daily interview youths packing up and heading off to the UK, France, Germany looking for work, with a sense of pride, a sense of “these kids will now know what it was like back in the 60’s!”. It’s the Spanish equivalent of the spirit of the Blitz. The Brits grin wearily and make a cup of tea, the Spanish shrug, pack their suitcases and head north.

I notice that +gente, TVE’s evening magazine programme, has quietly dropped its segment in which it tried to find jobs for people. The last one I saw was an offer from Securitas Direct, offering 20 temporary part time telemarketing jobs – this, apparently, was deemed worthy of getting onto the national news- and today I didn’t see the segment at all.

Then you get news like the forced reopening of the Visteon plant in Cádiz. Multinational company Visteon had applied for mass redundancies for 400 members of staff at Cadiz Electronica, a factory it operates in Cadiz, saying that the factory was not viable in the current climate and it had no choice but to pull the plug. The Junta de Andalucia has today rejected the mass redundancy application and told Visteon to open the factory again, securing the 400 jobs. However, Visteon said that one of the reasons it was closing was because the factory was antiquated and needed a refit it could not afford, apart from the fact that it’s been losing money for years and isn’t expected to see a profit until 2014/2015 (and that dependent, on part, in closing down the Cadiz factory). Now, is this a brave move by the Junta, protecting the jobs of the little people? Or is it another blow to investment in the area, as more companies decide that they’d have to be mental to setup in Andalucia?

I think that little turncoat tick of an Minister for Work, Valeriano Gómez, said it best today when discussing the paro figures: they’re bad, he admitted. “We are in a worse situation now than at the beginning of the crisis” he admitted. “We are further away than ever before from a happy resolution to la crisis” he added. “We were starting to leave la crisis at the beginning of the year but now are in a worse condition than ever before” he confessed. He talked of 0% growth, he even used the word “a second recession”. He didn’t actually admit that we’re fecked, but the implication was there.

In fact, he gave up and just about admitted that the opposition PP had the right course: only with severe austerity and severe structural cuts can Spain turn around and start generating growth. (from Expansión).

I expect he then went out for a stiff drink. Hey, he’s get an extremely large paycheck at the end of the month when he’s kicked out of his cushy ministerial job, so he’s not too worried about having to join the paro queue.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 370,000 households in Andalucia alone have no regular source of income, with all members of the household out of work, and a total of 30% of the population of Andalucia live below the European poverty line. The Andalucian average wage is still 1,700€ less than the national average (at just 8,000€ a year), 5,000€ less than the average wage of Navarra. If the recession continues, within five years the inhabitants of Andalucia will have a worse per capita income than when Spain joined the CEE in 1986. If the EU does end the PAC farming subsidiaries to the region next year, as expected, then that dreaded day will come even sooner.

Cheers, PSOE.

Anyway, tonight at 23:00 hours marks the start of the official campaign for the 20-N elections. You’ll wake up tomorrow morning to find the streets covered in posters advertising different political parties, many of the blown away by the wind and landing in nearby bushes. I notice that Martin from Turre’s IU still has a few up from the municipal elections, I assume this was to save him some time.

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