Employers’ chief questions validity of official jobless data

Juan Rosell: “There is fat everywhere in the administration”

Juan Rosell, president of the CEOE. / Carlos Rosillo (EL PAÍS)

Juan Rosell, the president of Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), the country’s largest employer group, was in an expansive and polemical mood on Thursday, questioning the accuracy of the National Statistics Institute’s (INE) figures, as well as the productivity of civil servants, who were quick to respond the following day.

Rosell has routinely been critical of the INE’s figures and in a conversation with journalists on Thursday said Spain’s statistics are “complicated, inefficient and bad.” He particularly took objection to the INE’s Active Population Survey (EPA), which is normally considered a better gauge of the labor market than jobless claims. The EPA for the last quarter of last year put the number of people unemployed at 5.965 million, while Social Security claims amounted to 4.980 million.

“We don’t use the INE or the EPA anymore. The EPA of six million people unemployed is not true. It uses a sample of 65,000 people that we have used for a long time, but if you want to know the number of people out of work, it’s best to go to the jobless claims register,” he said.

The EPA is in fact based on a survey of 65,000 households rather than individuals, meaning the sample, therefore, is close to 200,000. Experts also point out that for those not entitled to unemployment benefits, there is no need, or incentive, to sign on officially as unemployed.

Rosell also directed a few barbed comments at the public sector, which he said was bloated. “There’s fat everywhere.” He speculated that up to 400,000 civil servants are surplus to requirements. “Perhaps you could give a subsidy to those in the public administration using up paper, making telephone calls and trying to create laws. That has a tremendous cost,” he said.

The CSI-F labor union representing civil servants on Friday emphatically rejected Rosell’s comments and called on the CEOE chief to “retract his insults.” In an interview with the radio station Cadena Ser on Friday, Rosell said he was “delighted to open a debate on issues that people are afraid to put on the table.”

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