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Unemployment falls by 48,559 in March thanks to record job creation

More than 161,000 people signed up to Social Security system, raising total number of affiliates to almost 18 million

paro en marzo
People outside an employment office in Madrid.

Spain’s labor market continues to enjoy a relatively healthy recovery. Last month, a March without Easter, the Social Security system registered an average increase of 161,752 contributors, an increase unseen for the third month of the year since 2001, according to Labor Ministry figures released on Tuesday.

Spain is still largely creating unskilled, badly paid, temporary positions

Total unemployment also fell last month by 48,559 to 3.7 million, the biggest drop in a single month in the last eight years.

Easter arrives late this year, but almost a third of the new jobs created in March are in the hospitality sector, followed by construction, which saw 17,471 positions created as the weather improves and work begins on new projects.

March’s figures reflect the ongoing recovery of the Spanish labor market: over the last year, there has been a 3.49% increase in contributors to the Social Security, close to the increases detected in the spring of 2015, when the number rose above 3.5% year on year.

Nevertheless, the fiscal gap in Spain’s pensions system widens yearly. Job creation has been growing at a rate of 3% over the past two years, and consequently so have Social Security affiliations. But the increase does not match spending.

In 2016, the Social Security system’s deficit broke its own record, reaching at least €18.6 billion, or around €1,000 for every member signed up.

The Spanish labor market created more than 400,000 jobs last year, with unemployment falling to 18.6% in the final quarter of 2016, according to new figures released on Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE). While one of the highest in Europe, it is the lowest unemployment rate Spain has seen in the last seven years.

But it should be borne in mind that Spain is still largely creating unskilled, badly paid, temporary positions.

 English version by Nick Lyne.

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