The Balearics depends on tourism for job opportunities. | M. CLADERA

As if any confirmation were needed of the importance of tourism to employment in the Balearics, latest figures show how much job opportunities depend on tourism. 31.1% of all those in work are employed in the tourism sector, way above the national average of 13.5%, and the Balearic percentage is higher than the Canaries, where it stands at 28.5%.

In Spain as a whole, almost 80% of employment in the tourism sector is accounted for by seven regions, the Balearics being one of them along with the Canaries, Catalonia, Andalusia, Valencia, Madrid and Galicia. In the third quarter of this year, this equated to 2.45 million workers or 13.5% of the country’s total employment, and the number was up by over 100,000.

The Labour Force Survey, which is the one that churns these statistics out, shows that unemployment in the tourism sector was down by around 10% between July and September to just short of 350,000 workers. The unemployment rate was, therefore, 12.4%, down from the 14% of last year and significantly below the 21.2% national rate of unemployment.

Of the seven regions that contribute so much to the tourism economy, the greatest increase in third-quarter employment was in the Canaries, where it was up by over 23% compared with last year. And of specific types of employment, the bar/restaurant sector provided more of it than any other: 49%.

But what of conditions of employment? This is the big issue when it comes to announcements regarding employment, and the stats reveal that 38% of this employment was temporary, a similar number to 2014, while there was a 6% growth in permanent contracts (also similar to last year).

This temporary employment increased in all the sub-sectors of the tourism industry with the exception of transport services, for which there was a decrease of more than 25%. Foreign workers, the survey finds, represented nearly 19%  of  all employees in the tourism sector, and there were 9% more of them in the third quarter.

But there are growing concerns about the increase in tourism and spending not filtering through to the workers. Earlier this week, the Balearic minister for tourism, Biel Barcelo, expressed his worries about the fall in income despite the tourism boom. He also said that another problem which needs to be addressed is the part and short-term contracts which are offered in the summer but do not provide all year job security.