January registered a drop of 198,000 affiliates, but with a minimal increase in unemployment and a record number of indefinite contracts

January is always a bad month for the labor market, with falls in average enrollment and an increase in unemployment, and this year has not been an exception, also marked by the sixth wave of the pandemic. The data is actually more favorable than on other occasions, especially on the side of unemployment and permanent contracts. The average number of workers affiliated with Social Security fell by 197,750 people, a better figure than in the last three years. For its part, registered unemployment at SEPE offices increased by 17,173 people, the lowest increase in a month of January in 24 years. And, as Vice President Yolanda Díaz warned yesterday, the first month after the approval of the labor reform reveals a significant increase in permanent contracts, which accounted for 15% of the contracts signed compared to the usual 9% in the last decade.

Radiography of a year of records for employment in Spain

Radiography of a year of records for employment in Spain

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The first month of the year always leaves bad news in the employment of thousands of people, with the end of hiring for the Christmas campaigns, which usually results in a reduction in workers in commerce and in the hotel industry, among other activities. This year, in addition, January has been marked by the peak of people infected by the omicron variant, with record levels of infections. Thus, the drop in average membership reached 197,750 workers, less than the more than 204,000 people in the last three years. The average total number of workers thus stood at 19,627,161 affiliated persons.

If the seasonally adjusted data is taken into account, which excludes the effects of the seasonality of the labor market and serves to analyze the evolution of employment by isolating these cyclical variations, employment continued to increase in January: it increased by 71,948 affiliated workers, which "exceeds the monthly average of the years prior to the pandemic", highlights the Ministry led by José Luis Escrivá.

Looking at how we are compared to a year ago, we see that there are almost 800,000 more workers affiliated with Social Security. This is a very high increase, 4.24%, the highest since 2006, in the middle of the bubble before the financial crisis. The rate of year-on-year job creation accelerated in January compared to December, with 4.1%.

Minimum rise in unemployment in recent decades

Registered unemployment is the one that leaves the best news. The number of unemployed people who signed up for unemployment was minimal: 17,173. This is the lowest figure for this month since 1998, 24 years ago, when it increased by 10,285 people. The total number of unemployed thus reached 3,123,078 people.

Once again, in seasonally adjusted terms, the data is much better, with a drop in unemployment in January: by 75,210 people.

If we look at what has happened in the last year, the reading is also positive. Unemployment has experienced a marked decrease in annual terms, with a reduction of 841,275 unemployed people registered with the SEPE, "a record in the historical series", highlights the Ministry of Labor.

The ERTE COVID remain at 100,000 people

A less encouraging news lies in the people in ERTE COVID, which was not reduced compared to last December. But, as noted, January has still been affected by the sixth wave, characterized by a large rise in infections. The number of workers protected by this mechanism has closed the first month of 2022 at 105,043 people, somewhat above the 102,000 of the previous month. The Ministry headed by José Luis Escrivá highlights that "despite the sixth wave of the pandemic, the number of ERTE workers has remained stable throughout the month of January, unlike what happened in the previous waves. ", in which the rise in infections was accompanied by greater restrictions.

Of the total, the workers are distributed practically 50% between those who are partially suspended (50,294), that is, who work part of their day, and in total ERTE (54,749), with contracts totally suspended, according to preliminary data from Social Security.

By sectors, there is a significant sectoral concentration in activities related to hospitality and tourism. The sector with the most workers protected by ERTE is travel agencies (with 29% of the total workers in the sector), followed by accommodation services (with 7.6%) and air transport (7.6 %).

In addition, there are another 11,778 workers in ERTE ETOP, for economic reasons, which were reduced compared to the 20,124 that existed as of December 30. By sectors, this type of ERTE exists "a notable concentration in the industrial sector", in which the decrease in workers in ERTE that the automotive industry has experienced has been noted, explains Social Security.

More indefinite in the first month of labor reform

This month leaves us with a relevant figure in permanent contracts, which the Minister of Labor related yesterday to the approval of the labor reform, since January has been the first month in which the decree is in force. The total number of contracts registered during the month was 1,596,332. Of these, 238,672 were permanent contracts, the highest figure in the last decade.

"Indefinite contracts represent 15% of all contracts, which reflects the boost to stable contracting that has led to Royal Decree Law 32/2021 of December 28, currently in force," they consider in the Ministry, since "it has been the best month in the historical series in terms of the signing of new indefinite contracts, excluding conversions of temporary contracts". In general, indefinite contracts usually account for 9% of total contracts in this month, a figure that varies little throughout the year.

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