Hospitality and leisure are taking, by far, the worst part of the employment drain caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus in Spain, just a year ago. Nine out of ten jobs destroyed since February last year were in both sectors, which between February 2020 and February 2021 almost 345,000 employees have been left behind. This aggregate figure, which does not take into account those who are affected by an ERTE, represents more than 86% of the drop in total Social Security affiliation, which amounts to about 400,000 contributors. The reopening of tourism in summer will be key to trying to correct this dangerous trend in the second half of the year, when most analysts have pinned their hopes for a vigorous recovery of the Spanish economy.
In the case of the hospitality industry – the sector that best embodies the shock caused by the pandemic, with a string of closures, capacity and time restrictions and a collapse of tourism throughout the country – the reduction in the number of contributors is close to 19%. In other words: one in five people who were employed in this sector in February last year, when the Health Organization (WHO) was already talking about an international health emergency but the pathogen was still simply “the Wuhan virus”, well they have joined the unemployment lists and have found better luck in other branches of activity.
Something similar – although with slightly less abrupt figures – has occurred in artistic, recreational and entertainment activities, which have lost almost 49,000 contributors, more than 14% of those in February of last year. Although the red numbers are practically generalized, hospitality and leisure are the only two in which the percentage decline in the volume of contributors is double digits.
The collapse in the number of contributors tells, however, only part of the photo: we must also add the high number of employees who are with the contract suspended by an ERTE, a formula under which the state takes care of between 70% and 50% of your salary. Taking the February average as a reference, almost half of those who were affected by this type of temporary employment regulation files – 447,000 out of almost 909,000 workers – worked in restaurants or hotels. Another branch directly assigned to leisure – creative, artistic and entertainment activities, in the nomenclature used by Social Security – adds another 4,100 employees in this situation.
Health, public function and primary sector, those that best resist
Faced with the drama emanating from employment data in the recreational and hospitality sectors – for which this recession is the closest thing to a crisis to this: It would be difficult to think of a worse environment for them— a small cluster of six activity niches not only manages to weather the storm but also gains affiliates in the last twelve months. They are, for the most part, essential activities that the pandemic has only highlighted their importance: health and social services, public function, the primary sector, information and communications, education, and water supply and sanitation.
Both in absolute and relative terms, the greatest gain falls on health activities and social services, on whose shoulders the bulk of the front-line combat against the health crisis has fallen and which today have more than 87,000 more contributors than in February of 2020, an increase of more than 5%. Next, the increase in affiliation to Social Security in the Public Administration was almost 42,000 people, raising the number of starting contributors by 3.8% in February of last year.
In agriculture, livestock, hunting, forestry and fishing, the gain was almost 25,500 members, 2.4% more; in information and communications, out of 10,500 contributors, 1.8% more; and in education, 10,400, 0.9% more. Much more modest was the boost in activities related to water, where the increase in contributors was just over 700 people, just 0.5% more.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.