The government has been caught out trying to jiggle the underlying stats on the dole figures. They say the changes will only influence the unemployment rates by a couple of decimal points, but independent statisticians reckon it could be over a whole point.
The fuss lies with the base population figure.
INE, the stats office, currently uses an adjusted 2002 rate. That is, they used the 2002 census to count everyone in the country, then used the residency, births and death figures for each year to estimate how many people are in the country.
They then total everyone drawing the dole and calculate the unemployment rate, currently at about 26% of the population.
But – for this year, it seems the INE office has been told to use the 2011 census, without adjusting the unemployment ratio.
What’s that mean?
Well, since the population has risen in real terms above the adjusted rate, there will be fewer unemployed per head of population.
Meaning, if this had happened last year, the unemployment rate would be 25%, instead of 26%.
So, the opposition claim the government has essentially knocked a percentage point off the headline grabbing unemployment rate, without a single extra person finding a job.
Of course, the Spanish dole rate is essentially made up anyway. You’re only on it if you’re signed on, which most people, once their dole is used up (maximum two years) don’t bother keeping up, as they have to physically appear every three months and sign back on. Only worth it if you’re trying to get state training or the like, which most people don’t bother with, because the current system is a terrible waste of taxpayers money.