Unemployment mixed messages
There was mixed news about unemployment in the Balearics last week. Under a Wednesday headline - “Sweet and sour unemployment figures” - a report told us that in November the Balearics had posted the sharpest increase in the number of people out of work in Spain. Balancing this was the fact that, by comparison with this period last year, over 7,000 more people were in work. President Bauzá, admitting that the situation was not “ideal”, said that the regional government was confident that unemployment would continue to fall. PIMEM, the Federation of Small to Medium Sized Businesses was encouraged but pointed out that only 12% of new jobs were full-time. On Thursday, it was reported that there are 53,000 people in the Balearics who are not only unemployed but also receive no benefits from the government. Joana Barceló, for PSOE, while also encouraged by the creation of new jobs, voiced her concern for young workers struggling to get onto the labour market and urged the government to do more to get young people to join the Youth Guarantee Programme, through which 15 million euros are available to promote the development of young workers. Only 150 have so far registered.
Meanwhile, the door seemed to be closing on the possibility of jobs being created in a new industry - oil exploration. An environmental impact study by the national environment ministry advised against oil and gas prospecting taking place in Balearic waters, something which was both a “setback” and brought “joy”. The Balearic Government has consistently opposed prospecting, and Mabel Cabrer, the parliamentary spokesperson for the Partido Popular, said that the study’s findings were “great news”.

Rafa - our favourite son
Just as joyous was the ceremony on Monday at which Rafa Nadal was proclaimed as “Majorca’s favourite son”. Nadal said that he was deeply honoured by the distinction. “I value highly the fact that I’m Majorcan and I’m happy if I can bring pride to our region.” On different sporting fronts, there was news last Sunday of a new 30-kilometre cycle route to be built on the island’s east coast between Cala Mandia in Manacor and Costa del Pins in Son Servera, while on Friday, Monro Bryce looked at what may be a closure in the recent troubled history of Real Mallorca - the club’s vice-president and chief shareholder, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, was set to leave after four years of “endless controversies and broken promises”.

Women’s work
There were two reflections on women’s employment in Majorca at times when women did not typically form part of the island’s workforce. In the Enjoying Majorca pages last Sunday, Andrew Ede looked back at the embroidery industry which had grown up in Sant Llorenç at the end of the nineteenth century and which had led to the first actual workshop having been opened in the village in 1924. On Tuesday, Shirley Roberts and Rachel Fox’s Spotlight on Soller reported on a lecture and film presentation that chronicled the town’s textile industry. A hundred years ago there had been 21 textile factories in Soller which had given rise to the “mass employment of women in the area”. The last factory closed in 1972, by which time Sant Llorenç’s embroidery workshops had also more or less ceased to be.

The bad and good
On Thursday and Friday there were two stories which revealed very different sides of Majorca. Firstly, there was the photo of Maria Antonia Salazar and the severe facial injuries she had suffered as a consequence of a stone thrown from a motorway bridge having struck her in the face.
Very much more happily, Friday’s front cover showed the “proud mum” and her baby son to whom she had given birth on a Palma bus. The baby was delivered with the help of the bus driver and passengers. Meanwhile, police had arrested a 23-year-old man after their car was hit by a stone thrown from a motorway bridge. And as a corollary to the birth on the bus, it was reported that the Balearics was one of eleven regions in Spain which had experienced an increase in the number of newborn babies during the first six months of the year.

And the even better ...
Yesterday, the front page announced that the government was to give a “helping hand to businesses which open all year round” in making the tourist industry more competitive. This is help “for the winter heroes” of the industry, one of whom, Geoff Hopkins, was featured in the Northern Spotlight feature. The hotel of which he is managing partner, Sis Pins in Puerto Pollensa, is one that does stay open all year, and so far this winter, bookings are up by a whopping 35%.


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