Temporary work fell below 25% at the beginning of 2022, but unemployment increased by 70,900 people

First quarter of the year with a fall in employment and an increase in unemployment, as usually happens at the start of the year in the labor market. The decrease in the number of workers affected 100,200 people in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter and the rise in unemployment stood at 70,900 people, according to the Active Population Survey (EPA) published this Thursday by the INE. Among all the figures, the increase in unemployment stands out, due to its high level, and also another more positive one: how permanent work gains weight compared to temporary work after the labor reform, which makes the temporary rate fall below 25%. Specifically, it remains at 24.2%.

Thus, the balance for the quarter leaves the total number of working people at 20,084,700 and the unemployed at 3,174,700. The unemployment rate stands at 13.65%, which is 32 hundredths more than in the previous quarter.

The first three months of the year usually bring bad news for the labor market. Since 2008, job destruction has always been registered and, in general, the norm is also that of an increase in unemployment. With a few exceptions, such as last year's, in which unemployment fell at the beginning of the year. This 2022, the labor market has recovered its usual negative behavior and to assess how "bad" the data is, it can be compared with what happened in previous years.

While the fall in employment is less than that registered in the last two years (137,500 in 2021, 285,600 in 2020) and is in line with the figures registered in years of growth after the financial crisis, the increase in unemployment is more remarkable. The increase of almost 71,000 unemployed people this quarter is the highest figure in recent years, except for 2020 (+121,100), when the pandemic broke out. In the years of pre-pandemic employment growth, there are no similar data on the increase in unemployment and you have to go back to 2013 to see a higher figure than this year.

What is the context of this first quarter? Although it may seem very far away in the current climate of the end of the pandemic, January was marked by the omicron wave of the virus, with a peak in infections that reached maximums not seen to date. Although the mortality with respect to the total number of infections was much lower than that registered in other waves, in absolute numbers there were more victims than in the preceding months.

On the other hand, since the end of February the economy (and the labor market) have been affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the war unleashed in the country at the gates of the EU. The conflict has caused a skyrocketing inflation, rooted in the cost of energy, but which is already spreading to other prices.

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