One of the big underlying questions in the debate about the Spanish economy, which is said to be growing at a rate of  three per cent, faster than Germany and many of its neighbours, is whether it is expanding on solid foundations or just through the summer boom in tourists and temporary workers. Quite simply, are these short or long-term green shoots?  

Yesterday, a report was published which revealed that unemployment is stubbornly stuck at around 13% in Italy and 23% in Spain.

It may seem strange, then, that Adecco, the world’s largest staffing agency, is seeing its fastest growth in these places. The Swiss group reported its latest quarterly results yesterday, with better-than-expected revenue growth reflecting the gradual improvement in the global economy.

Adecco, which generates three-quarters of its revenue from temporary job placements, is seen as something of a bellwether - companies tend to hire temps before they invest in permanent staff.

That’s good news for Italy and Spain, where Adecco’s second-quarter sales rose by 19% and 13%, respectively, versus the same period last year. That easily outpaced overall growth of 4% in the quarter, after adjusting for currency movements:

Spain is in the midst of an economic growth spurt, which its leaders say is down to the labour-market reforms they have been implementing in recent years. Italy’s economy is stagnant, but the government has only recently got round to making its labour laws more flexible.