Palma.—In 2009, 18.8 percent of the total number of people out of work here in the Balearics had been jobless for over a year, the latest figures for 2013 show that 40.2 percent of the unemployed have been out of a job for over 12 months.

And, despite the fact that the Balearic rate of unemployment has been on the decline over the past few months, mainly on the back of the tourist season, the number of people out of work for over a year is continuing to rise.

At the end of last month, according to the latest official unemployment records, there were 27'848 people who had been looking for work for over a year, 6.2 percent than last year - an increase of 1'638.

Concern

The Balearic Minister for the Economy, Joaquin Garcia, has expressed his concern about the high number of long term unemployed and has admitted that solving the problem of long term unemployment “is difficult.” The bulk of those who have been out of work for longer than a a year used to work in the construction industry and it is very difficult to place them in other sectors.

The UGT General Workers' Union, in its first half of the year report, has also singled this out as one of the biggest hurdles the Balearics has to overcome as part of its attempt to combat unemployment which the unions have warned will begin to start rising within the next two months as the tourist season comes to an end.

According to the UGT's report, during the first six months of this year, the number of people who have been out of work for over a year rose by nine percent in comparison to last year while all other groups shrunk.

Problem of age

What is more, the unions have warned the relevant authorities that a large number of those in long term unemployment are older than their contemporaries at the job centres having enjoyed years of sustained and steady work in the once booming construction industry and this makes retraining and replacing them in the work place even more challenging.

According to the UGT, 60 percent of the long term unemployed are aged over 52.
What is more, UGT Secretary, Manuel Pelarda, said that since 1 April, the government has tightened the conditions under which the over 55s can access social benefits.

If they are lucky, they will receive 484 euros per month.
And, Pelarda said that the real number of people who have been unemployed for longer than a year is much higher because many have signed off from the job centres so are no longer on the official register, so the authorities have no accurate idea of how many are out of work and in need of social benefits. “Many reached the point they are no longer entitled to benefits so sign off,” he said. “And these people have got lost because they neither receive any benefit nor any chance of retraining,” he added.

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