Spanish employment data in 2022: Resilience in the context of a conundrum

Spanish employment data in 2022: Resilience in the context of a conundrum

Fecha: marzo 2023

María Jesús Fernández

Labour market

SEFO, Spanish and International Economic & Financial Outlook, V. 12 N.º 2 (March 2023)

The recent performance of the Spanish labour market has been favourable as regards employment (in both Labour Force Survey - LFS - and contributor terms), which has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels and continued to grow in 2022 despite a challenging economic and geopolitical context. The reduction in temporary contracts since the passage of the most recent labour reforms is another positive development. Indeed, the incidence of temporary workers in total contributors stood at 15% (the lowest level in the historical series) by the end of 2022, compared to 27% in previous years, evidencing the favourable impact of labour reforms in terms of job quality. However, the rationale behind the evolution of some labour market data remains uncertain and the performance of other indicators remains mixed, complicating a straightforward interpretation. Firstly, it is not clear why Social Security contributor growth has been so intense, outpacing both GDP and LFS employment growth. Part of the explanation could be attributable to the formalisation of the informal economy, a testament to labour market resilience in the context of extreme economic uncertainty. Lastly, despite some of these favourable trends, there was a sharp drop in actual hours worked per job holder, in line with the trend across the eurozone, adding to the mixed picture. Given the somewhat ambiguous nature of recent trends, it may simply be too early to come to a definitive conclusion over the evolution of Spain´s labour market and the extent to which it may have undergone structural changes.

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