A year after the UDI: Catalonia has created more jobs than Madrid and the Basque Country combined

Catalonia led the fall in unemployment in the third quarter, despite a drop in tourism

Exactly one year after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), employment in Catalonia has failed to live up to the pessimistic forecasts. In the last twelve months, Catalonia has created more jobs than Madrid and the Basque Country combined. Specifically, unemployment has fallen by 77,300, while in Madrid it fell by 49,300 and in the Basque Country by 16,400. Combined, this represents the creation of some 65,700 new jobs, fewer than in Catalonia alone. It is worth noting that Madrid and the Basque Country are the autonomous communities with the highest per capita income in Spain and jointly they have a population comparable with Catalonia.

It is not only unemployment figures which disprove any negative impact of the [independence] process on the labour market. The rate of change in employment in Catalonia has also increased by 2.33% over the last year, a figure similar to the Spanish average and higher than the figure for Madrid (+1.67), Navarre (+1.72%), the Basque Country (+1.81%) and Valencia (+2.26%). The figures come from the latest Active Population Survey (APS), released this Thursday by the Spanish Statistical Office (INE).

Unemployment fell by 28,300 in Catalonia in the third quarter, a decrease of 6.55% over the previous quarter, meaning the total number of jobless stands at 403,700. The unemployment rate is now at 10.6%, a drop of around one percent since July, when it stood at 11.4%. This is the lowest figure since the third quarter of 2008, when unemployment rose from 8.8% to 11.75% in just three months. In annual terms, this means unemployment figures have dropped by 72,000 in Catalonia, 15.13% lower than last year.

In spite of the drop in tourism last summer, Catalonia spearheaded the decrease in unemployment in Spain between July and September, months which typically see new jobs in the service sector. Nevertheless, in annual terms, Catalonia remains in second place with 72,000 fewer unemployed, behind Andalusia, where jobless figures fell by 107,400. Catalonia was also the second autonomous community in terms of job creation during the third quarter, with 33,500 new jobs, behind the 47,500 generated by the Balearic Islands.

Unemployment drops by 15% in Spain

In Spain as a whole, unemployment fell by 164,100. This represents 4.70% fewer unemployed than the previous quarter, meaning the total number of those out of work stands at 3.32 million. According to the APS, the unemployment rate in Spain now stands at 14.55% compared to 15.28% in the previous survey. With the new figures, Spain has managed to fall below the psychological barrier of 15%, reaching the lowest level since the end of 2008.

With regard to employment, 183,900 jobs were created in the third quarter, some 1% more than the previous quarter, meaning 19.5 million people are now in employment. Since the beginning of the year, 478,800 more people found a job, an increase of 2.51%. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Carmen Calvo, welcomed the figures and emphasised the new unemployment rate was "historic and significant”, as Spain hadn’t achieved it in over a decade.

By sector, the service industry created the most jobs, with a total of 210,200 new employees during the last quarter. Meanwhile, in the whole of Spain, industry created only 2,800 more jobs, while agriculture lost a total of 54,000. In addition, full-time contracts increased by 369,000, while part-time workers fell by 185,900, leading to a drop of 13.9% in the overall percentage of workers who are not in full-time employment.

Despite the enthusiasm shown by Pedro Sánchez's cabinet, Ernesto Poveda —the economist and Chief Executive of ICSA Grupo which specialises in human resources— believes that the APS figures also hide the precarious nature of Spain’s labour market. According to Poveda, "the prospect for the future is far from certain. There’s a big push from the service sector, but the type of jobs being created need to be less temporary and of a higher standard".