Madrid (ACN).- 836.900 are unemployed in Catalonia, according to the Active Population Survey for the first quarter of 2012, which was released on Friday by the Spanish Statistics Institute. This represents an unemployment rate of 22.16%, reaching 1985 levels and is close to the historical record of 22.8%. However, the data released today represents an historical record in Catalonia, as never before has there been so many jobless people in absolute terms. Between January and March 2012 there were 61,500 more jobless people than in the last quarter of 2011, and 109,300 than one year ago. 66,900 jobs were destroyed in Catalonia in the first quarter of 2012, leaving the total number of jobless at 2,939,000 at the end of March. In Spain as a whole, unemployment increased by 365,900 people in the first quarter to 5,639,500, which represents an unemployment rate of 24.44%.
The Spanish Government, run by the Conservative People’s Party (PP), approved a labour market reform in February that came into effect immediately. The Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated on Friday that Spain is experiencing “the harshest moments” of the crisis and that “the data demonstrates that reforms need to be pursued”. The Catalan Government criticised the Spanish Government for reducing the budget for employment policies by 56% which were set to be implemented in Catalonia in its budget proposal for 2012. This represents a drop from €457 million last year to €198 million this year. “It is absolute nonsense”, said the Catalan Deputy Minister for Employment, Esther Sánchez, as “they are deviating resources away from active employment policies” to only implement “a grant and bonus policy, which put Spain far from the rest of European countries”. Furthermore, she assessed as “critical” the released unemployment figures, which are “unsustainable”.
Despite the bad results, the first quarter of 2012 was not the worst regarding job destruction in Catalonia. In the last quarter of 2011, 69,800 jobs were destroyed. The number of people with a job has decreased over the last 12 months by 159,500 people in Catalonia, a 5.15% drop. In Spain as a whole, over the last quarter, 374,300 jobs were destroyed. Out of these figures, 278,300 corresponded to jobs occupied by men, while those occupied by women decreased by 96,000.
Half of young people are unemployed
If the general unemployment rate is set at 22.16%, the data referring to people aged between 16 and 24 years old increases to 50.10% in Catalonia. This means that half of Catalan young people cannot find a job. The young unemployment rate increases to 54.81% amongst men and decreases to 45.20% amongst women.
Half the people unemployed are long-term
Another deep problem revealed by the survey is that half of the people unemployed in Catalonia have been jobless for more than one year. 437,800 people are classed as long-term unemployed, which represents 52.3% of the total figure. A figure never reached before according to the historical records.
A decrease of the active population
Data from the last survey reveals a significant decrease in the active population, which includes people legally allowed to work and willing to find a job. At the end of March, Catalonia’s active population reached 3,777,000 people, 5.3% less than at the end of 2011. Catalonia’s active population has been continuously decreasing for the past 4 quarters. Experts interpret the reduction of the active population as a sign of a lack of optimism to find a job by the people who are legally allowed to work.