Staff Reporter
CONSTRUCTION, agriculture and the hotel and catering industries are the employment sectors which have captured the largest part of the immigrant workforce in Spain.

The presence of foreigners in activities such as public administration, health and education, is little more than token.
According to an economic report produced by the “La Caixa” bank and made public yesterday, 42 percent of the near to one million foreigners registered with Social Security in 2003, were working in these three sectors. The figures represent 11 percent of the labour force working in the hotel and catering industry, 10 percent in agriculture and eight percent in construction.

In 2003, 10.8 percent of foreign workers were self-employed without being assigned to any specific job sector, while domestic service, industry and public services laid claim to a little over eight percent of workers from overseas.

These percentages do not include self-employed workers without assignation to any particular sector. This means that in specific work environments, such as commerce, construction and industry, the relative importance of the foreign workforce tends to be underestimated.

The “La Caixa” report also signals that the importance of the foreign workforce varies according to geographical region. In Murcia, the foreign population registered with Social Security stands at about 12 percent, in the Balearics and the Canary Islands, it is at 9 percent; in Madrid, 8.8 percent; in other regions such as Asturias, the Basque Country and Galica, the quota doesn't exceed 2.5 percent. The number of foreign workers affiliated to the Spanish Social Security system stood at 1'002'039 in March this year, 70 percent of them coming from outside the European Union. This figure is three times higher than that in 1999 when only 334'976 foreigners were affiliated to Social Security, 2.3 percent of the total.

This increase can be explained by the arrival of Latin American workers, who in 2003 were 320'000, five times more than there were registered in 1999.
Affiliation to Social Security has also grown amongst citizens from Eastern European countries, principaly Rumanians, Bulgarians and Ukrainians. In 2003, the figure stood at 110'000 people, nine times higher than the figures for 1999.

Less intense, but also important has been the increase of those registered with Social Security coming from African countries. Morocco heads the league table with 160'233 people, followed by Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria, which go to make up a total of 60'228 Social Security affiliates.

The group belonging to member states of the European Union reached 202'813 in 2003, 67 percent more than in 1999.
Provisional estimates for 2003 put the number of foreigners resident in Spain at about 6.3 percent of the total population, nearly 2.7 million.

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