Staff Reporter

PALMA
A TOTAL of 20'034 new jobs were generated in the Balearics last year, and 79.2 per cent of them were taken by foreigners, mainly from non-European Union countries.

This was revealed yesterday by Cristóbal Huguet, the Balearic minister of labour, accompanied by Pueyo Pons, the director of the employment exchange (SOIB), and Antonia Puigros, director of the Centre of Labour Studies and Programmes.

They presented a report on the evolution of the labour market in 2006.
Commenting on the fact that nearly 80 per cent of the new workers on the island last year were foreigners, he said that the year had ended with an average of 73'725 foreigners paying social security. This, he added, was 15'861 more than 2005, representing an increase of 18.8 per cent.

He added that three quarters of the foreign workers came from non-European Union countries.
Foreign workers now represent 16.7 per cent of the total work force in the Balearics.
The report indicated that last year there were 441'279 workers registered with social security, an increase of 20'034 workers, or 4.8 per cent.
It was the fourth biggest increase in jobs in Spain, after Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid.
As to unemployment, Huguet said that the year ended with 36'134 people out of work, a drop of 2'206 people compared to 2005 in absolute terms and 5.8 per cent in relative turns.

The report also indicated that 42.9 per cent of those in work were women and 57.1 per cent were men, figures which were reversed when it came to unemployment -- then, women accounted for 55.7 per cent of the jobless and men 44.3 per cent.

The increase in jobs benefited all age groups. There was a 1.6 per cent rise in the under 25s who were in work; 4.7 per cent in the 25 to 45 age group, and six per cent in the over 45s.

A total of 439'867 contracts were signed in the employment offices last year, 34'453 more than the previous year, and 13.2 per cent of them were for an indefinite period of time.

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