The data for affiliation to Social Security and registered unemployment for December in Spain show that job creation has resisted in 2022 the ravages of the escalation of energy prices, the rise in interest rates, the loss of purchasing power and the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The number of Social Security affiliates has grown by more than 471,000 people throughout 2022, standing in December at 20.3 million, with an annual average of 20.1 million affiliates, the highest in the historical series. In parallel, registered unemployment has decreased by more than 268,000 people throughout 2022, standing at 2.83 million, some 326,000 less than those recorded in December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

    The creation of employment and the reduction of unemployment throughout 2022, after a full year of validity of the labor reform promoted by the Government of Pedro Sánchez and supported by the CCOO and UGT unions, evidence the unfounded character of gloomy omens about the pernicious impact it would have on employment. The reform, on the contrary, has contributed to reducing the high temporary nature of new contracts in Spain and give more stability to jobs. The number of new permanent contracts in 2022 has more than tripled, while temporary contracts have been reduced by 35%. It must be clarified that many of the new indefinite ones are intermittently permanent, that they continue to be affiliated in the periods that they do not work, therefore they are not counted in unemployment statistics. All in all, the greater stability in employment and the reduction of temporary employment, together with the increase in the minimum interprofessional wage in 2022 (also harshly criticized because it would harm employment) have contributed to maintaining a higher level of activity and economic growth than in other European Union (EU) countries, despite the difficult environment.

    However, the labor data for December also indicate the persistence of pending subjects. First, at the end of 2022 there are still 708,000 unemployed in Spain more than those registered in December 2007, which indicates that unemployment has not yet been reduced to the level prior to the financial crisis that began in 2008. Second, the gender gap in unemployment remains uncorrected: the number of unemployed women is 47% higher to that of men and during 2022 male unemployment fell in absolute figures more than female unemployment. A third problem is the abuse of discontinuous permanent contracts, in theory reserved for seasonal employment, but which some companies have turned into substitutes for work and service contracts to mask the maintenance of precariousness. Discontinuous permanent contracts represented more than 38% of the total permanent contracts in December and multiplied their number by 10 compared to December 2021.

    The data for December also anticipate the difficulties that Spain faces in 2023, with weaker economic growth and high inflation, the prolongation of the war in Ukraine, more interest rate hikes on the horizon and the risk of further rising energy prices. The reduction in unemployment and the increase in affiliations to Social Security has slowed down: the monthly decrease in unemployment in December was the lowest since 2012, the number of self-employed workers stagnated in 2022 due to the closure of thousands of small businesses and even in seasonally adjusted terms the number of affiliates to Social Security fell in December, as recognized by the Government.

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