Unemployment increased in first quarter

Spanish unemployment
Unemployment now stands at 24.4%

Unemployment in Spain increased by 1.59 points during Q1 to 24.4%, the highest rate for 18 years, according to figures released today by the Institute of National Statistics (INE).

A further 365,900 people joined the unemployed in the first quarter, creating a total of 5,639,500 unemployed persons in Spain.

Worryingly, the number of households with all members being unemployed increased by 153,500 to 1,728,400.

Economically active population and activity rate

The economically active population experienced a decrease of 8,400 persons in the first quarter of 2012. The number of economically active persons stood at 23,072,800 persons. In interannual terms, the number of economically active persons increased by 10,900 persons.

The general activity rate remained at 59.94%, without variation regarding previous quarter. The female activity rate increased 43 hundredths, up to 53.35%, while the male rate decreased 44 hundredths, up to 66.86%.

The distance between the activity rates of Spaniards and foreign nationals exceeded 18 points, in favour of the latter, this circumstance being explained by the different age structures of both populations.


The number of employed persons decreased by 374,300 persons in the first quarter of 2012, standing at 17,433,200.

The drop in employment affected men (278,300 fewer) more than women (96,000 fewer). By nationality, the number of employed foreign nationals decreased by 87,300, and that of Spaniards did so by 287,000.

By age, employment drop in all aged groups. By sex, the women aged between 45 to 49 years old registered the greatest increase in employment (12,400 more). In turn, the employed men aged between 25 to 29 decreased 70,200 and women aged in that group decreased 41,100.

The number of employed persons decreased in all sectors. Services registered 184,800 fewer employed persons, Construction 90,200, Industry 67,000 and Agriculture 32,300.

The number of self-employed workers increased 46,300, mainly, due to the increase of employers without wage-earners.

The number of wage-earners decreased by 418,000, of whom 138,400 had a permanent contract and 279,600 a temporary contract. The temporary employment rate decreased 1.2 points, up to 23.76%.

Part-time employment increased by 47,500 persons this quarter, whilst full-time employed persons decreased by 421,800. The percentage of persons working part-time increased almost six tenths, up to 14.73%.

The interannual variation of employment was –3.96%, seven tenths lower than that registered the previous quarter. Employment experienced a decrease of 718,500 persons in one year, 709,700 of whom were wage-earners and 9,900 of whom were self-employed workers.

The interannual job losses among men (531,700 fewer) were so much higher than those women (186,800).

Unemployment and unemployment rate

The increase in unemployment was 365,900 this quarter, standing at 5,639,500. In the last 12 months, the total figure of unemployed persons increased by 729,400 persons.

The unemployment rate rose 1.59 points, as compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, standing at 24.44%.

The increase in unemployment was almost the same for men and women.

The male unemployment rate increased 1.63 points, up to 24.09%, whilst the female rate increased 1.54 points, and stood at 24.86%. The composition of unemployment observed since the year 2008 remained, with relatively little distance between the male and female rates, and a greater number of unemployed men than unemployed women.

By nationality, the increase in unemployment was 298,500 more unemployed Spaniards, against 67,400 more unemployed foreign nationals. The unemployment rate for the foreign population was 36.95%, almost 15 points higher than that of persons with Spanish nationality.

Unemployment increased in all sectors. In Services, there were 147,900 more unemployed persons, in Agriculture 59,700, in Industry 49,800 and in Construction 29,500. Unemployment also increased among those persons who lost their job over a year ago (by 66,200 more), and among those seeking their first job (by 12,800).

Mobility as related to economic activity 

The percentage of employed persons who were inactive in the previous quarter is now 4.05%, seven tenths less than that recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The proportion of unemployed persons who were employed three months ago decreased two points, up to 17.18%. The percentage of unemployed persons for the first quarter of 2012 who were already unemployed three months prior increased 3.29 points, up to 67.51%. The percentage of unemployed persons who were inactive three months ago decreased 1.25 points, up to 15.31%.


The number of households in which all active members were unemployed experienced an increase of 153,400, as compared with the previous quarter, standing at 1,728,400. In parallel, the number of households in which all of the active members were employed decreased by 252,300, up to 8,593,700.

In an interannual comparison, the number of households in which all active persons were unemployed increased by 342,400, and the number of those in which all active members were employed decreased by 472,300.

The full press release can be downloaded from INE here: Economically Active Population Survey – First Quarter 2012