Good employment news is just a political smokescreen

Lies and mirrors is all we are seeing with the “good news” about the unemployment figures in Spain this Christmas.

Lets look at the figures:

107.570 people fewer on the SEPE list during December, which means people who are on the dole or whose dole has ended, but are actively inscribed on the government “looking for work list”. But since nobody bothers to register on the SEPE once their dole has ended (you have to keep going back every few weeks to sign on again for absolutely no benefit whatsoever, unless you expect to find a job via them which nobody does because it’s too much paperwork for the employers) people just let this lapse.

So how many of those people actually found a job, instead of just falling off the paper trail?

For that, we need to look at the number of contracts on the Social Security system – ie, the number of people with an active work contract. Here we find that 1.29 million people were issued with a new contract in December, of which 64.097 people seem to be creating new jobs. That’s higher than last year, admittedly, especially in what is traditionally a quiet month for jobs.

So, the true number of new jobs in December appears to be 64.097, but 107.570 people fell off the looking for work list. What happened to that missing 43.473? They’re either sitting at home unemployed or emigrating.

The government won’t say. But public information suggests that overall, from the 1st of Jan to the 31st of December, the Social Security lost 85.041 jobs. Meaning Spain, as a whole, ended the year with 85.041 fewer jobs than at the beginning of the year. Not so good. But a lot less than in previous years.

Let’s look at sectors. Services and Agriculture both ended the year with more contracts: 43.818 and 49.230 respectively. Construction and Industry both continued to destroy jobs however. Tourism remains more or less static.

Of course, two things to bear in mind about Services and Agriculture: A) How many of these “new jobs” are just farmers signing up their labourers because they’re scared of inspections and B) 82% of all new contracts registered at the SS office appear to be short term contracts. So the bringing forwards of the Olive and Grape harvests this year has helped.

Let’s go back to the Dole. According to government stats, in November 2.8 million people were drawing unemployment benefit, 6.7% fewer than last November. But, again, with the changes to unemployment benefit, we’re seeing a lot of people who aren’t finding jobs but whose benefits are running out.

It’s estimated that only 61.4% of all unemployed in Spain have  active unemployed benefit, by the way. The rest have run out or haven’t paid enough into the system to start drawing. That’s 4% less than this time last year.

Meanwhile, the average unemployment benefit has dropped to 828 euros, an all time low, whilst the monthly cost to the State of the Dole has dropped by 12.5% to 2.355 million euros a month.

So what the politicians are shouting about isn’t more employment, it’s fewer unemployed.

And why are there fewer unemployed?

Probably because whilst the Brits and the Germans are looking eastwards towards Bulgaria and Romania, the Spanish and the Portuguese are flooding in through the back door. The population is dropping as people, especially the young with no prospects and no Dole, are packing their bags and fleeing.

And why aren’t we seeing this in the figures? Because the Spanish politicians have massaged the system to hide this.

You see, in order to an emigrant to “officially appear” abroad, they have to register on the padrón with their local Spanish consulate, and keep on renewing it. Who does this? Only people with second homes abroad, or who have two jobs (one in Spain, one abroad) because they need it for tax purposes.

In fact, the Fundacion Alternativa reckons 68% of all Spanish economic migrants aren’t on the official stats.

Almeria, by the way, ended December with 75.961 unemployed, which is more than last year and a drop after November. Most of the drop seems to be coming from Agriculture, so we’re seeing a number of short term contracts appearing in the fields.

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