World Economy

Joblessness Focal Point in Spanish Vote

Joblessness Focal Point in Spanish VoteJoblessness Focal Point in Spanish Vote

Spain was hit hard by the global financial crisis, experiencing five, difficult years of on-off recession that saw unemployment rocket from a low of around 8% in 2007 to a high of 27% in 2013.

After he came to power in 2011, Conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed tough spending cuts and tax rises, and also tried to encourage companies to hire again by, for instance, reducing social security payments for firms hiring workers under 30 and over 45, AFP reported.

In October, official data showed that Spain’s jobless rate had dropped to a four-year-low, at just 21.2% in the third quarter.

But while the army of Spain’s jobless now stands a tad smaller than when Rajoy came to power, it is still the highest in the Eurozone after Greece’s.

In addition, his critics say that many jobs that have been created are precarious or badly paid, with a quarter of all new contracts lasting one week or less.

Far from resolved, the jobless situation has become one of the center points of the December 20 elections.

Rajoy has promised that the worst is over, pledging to create two million more jobs over the next five years.

The new, rising, center-right party Ciudadanos, meanwhile, is promising to reform labor laws, and has put forward the creation of a single employment contract to try and iron out differences between those in stable jobs and others in precarious positions.

The main opposition Socialists want to train and find jobs for 700,000 youngsters without a degree or job in a bid to reduce youth unemployment that currently stands at a huge 47.7%.

For its part, anti-austerity party Podemos has pledged to bring into force a monthly minimum income of €600.

According to official statistics, more than one in five Spanish households earns less than €16,700 a year—barely enough to survive—while the Save the Children NGO estimates that 1.3 million children out of 8 million are growing up in poor families.

“I won’t vote for Rajoy, nor for the PSOE [Socialist Party], nor for any of the major parties,” says a Spaniard. “They have always been up there and they just squash the people, on the right or on the left—they’re all the same.”