Spanish Unemployment Down Significantly, but Still Bad

Police officers ask people to not sit while patrolling at the beach in Barcelona, Spain, on May 20, when people were permitted to walk on its beaches for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown over two months ago. Sunbathing and recreational swimming are still not allowed. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

MADRID (AFP) — The number of new jobseekers in Spain was close to 27,000 in May, around 10 times lower than in March and April during the coronavirus lockdown, the labor ministry said Tuesday. 

Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 14 to slow the spread of the virus, and that month it counted more than 302,000 new jobseekers and another 280,000 in April. 

But in May, as the lockdown was gradually eased, the government counted a total of 26,573 new jobseekers in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, where the number of unemployed stands at 3.8 million. 

At the end of March, the National Statistics Institute (INE), which calculates figures in a different way, gave Spain’s jobless figure as 3.3 million 

These figures do not count those who have been furloughed. 

Between mid-March and the end of May, 3.7 million people were furloughed under a plan rolled out by the labor ministry. 

The left-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez banned layoffs and simplified access to temporary unemployment programs to ease the impact of the crisis. 

But when the furlough scheme draws to a close as planned at the end of June, unemployment figures could rise again. 

The government has urged there be no job axed in the six months after the furlough period, but layoffs are expected. 

In May, as the lockdown was eased, the number of new jobseekers in the construction sector fell by almost 7% compared with April. 

In industry and agriculture the figure remained stable, but it grew by 1.5% in the service sector, which has borne the brunt of the crisis, particularly due to the loss of significant numbers of temporary jobs in tourism.

In the first quarter, Spain’s unemployment rate jumped to 14.4%, INE figures showed. 

The International Monetary Fund estimates unemployment in Spain could soar to 20.8% in 2020, while the government expects a figure of 19%. 

© Agence France-Presse

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