The labor cost moderated its fall to 0.1% in the fourth quarter




The average labor cost per worker and month (which includes salaries and social contributions) decreased by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019, up to 2,752.26 euros, moderating by one point the annual decline of the third quarter and by more than eight points the rate of the second quarter, when the largest drop in 20 years was experienced (-8.3%), as reported this Wednesday by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

In this way, the labor cost chains three quarters of decreases, which started in the second quarter, coinciding with the pandemic and the entry of many workers in temporary employment regulation files (ERTE), which are not remunerated with salaries, but with benefits paid by the State Public Employment Service (SEPE), in some cases supplemented by the companies themselves.

The salary cost fell 0.7% in the annual rate, and other costs increased 1.7%. Within the latter, social contributions reflected an increase of 1.4%.

Statistics specified that workers under a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) continue to belong to the workforce of their companies, but are not paid with salaries but with unemployment benefits, and in some cases, supplemented by the companies themselves. In addition, the social contributions paid by the companies for these workers as well as those who rejoin the activity have exemptions.

The labor cost measured per hour grew by 5.1% due to the 5% decrease in the number of effective hours of work due to the impact of ERTE. If this effect and the calendar effect are eliminated, the estimated hourly cost growth was 5.5%.

The labor cost per worker, adjusted for the calendar and seasonally adjusted, fell 0.2% in the annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2020.

By economic sectors, construction showed a total labor cost growth of 1.3%, in industry it advanced 0.1% and in services it fell 0.2%.

By activity sections, labor cost growth was higher in Extractive industries, real estate activities and education. On the contrary, hospitality; artistic, recreational and entertainment activities, and transportation and storage registered the greatest decreases.

Regarding the wage cost per hour worked, the sections that registered the greatest increases were extractive industries; artistic, recreational and entertainment activities, and real estate activities.

On the contrary, the wage cost per hour worked fell in the hospitality industry and in transport and storage. By autonomous communities, the Community of Madrid and the Basque Country exceeded the national average by more than 450 euros.

Considering the annual growth of the cost, Region of Murcia, Castilla y León and Cantabria, presented the highest rates. On the contrary, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Extremadura registered the greatest decreases.

On the other hand, the agreed average weekly working day was 34.5 hours, of which 6.7 hours a week were lost, on average, mainly due to vacations and parties enjoyed. Meanwhile, 2.5 hours were not worked for other reasons such as temporary disability or paid leave, and 1.5 hours were lost due to technical, economic, organizational, production and / or force majeure reasons, including ERTE.

There were 76,007 vacancies in the fourth quarter, of which 87.5% were in the services sector. The Communities with the highest number of vacancies were the Community of Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia.

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