Tourism creates a great number of jobs, but too many of them are temporary. | Toni Escobar


The latest Labour Force Survey reveals that the number of unemployed in the Balearics fell by 14,000 during the third quarter of the year (compared with the second quarter) to leave an unemployment total of 67,900. This represented a 17.1% drop, the second highest in the country; Catalonia registered a 17.7% decrease.

Compared with last year, unemployment was down by 21,600. The 24.15% fall was the highest in Spain. This leaves an unemployment rate of 10.6% in the Balearics, which is the lowest in the country; Navarre with 12.4% has the second lowest rate.

Nationally, unemployment fell in the third quarter by 253,900, a drop of 5.5%. This gives a national unemployment rate of 18.9%, the first time it has gone under 20% since the third quarter of 2010 and similar to the 18.7% of the third quarter 2009. The decline was, however, less than in the July-September period last year, when unemployment fell by 298,000. The total number of unemployed is now 4,320,800. the lowest since 2009.

Spain's jobless rate is still, however, the European Union's second highest after Greece, while the gains in employment are largely due to seasonal employment. The percentage of temporary staff in the third quarter was 27%, the highest since the end of 2008. This type of employment is likely to continue, even after the tourism ends. The Christmas period is also a time for short-term seasonal contracts, while companies in general are being cautious about their employment plans because of Spain's political uncertainty and risks related to the Brexit vote.

The uncertainty is now being reduced because of the investiture of Mariano Rajoy, but his Partido Popular minority government will be under pressure to reverse reforms the PP introduced in 2012. These reduced the cost of hiring and firing and are credited by economists with having helped a turnaround in the labour situation. But they remain unpopular with opposition parties and unions, with employers being accused of being over-reliant on short-term, fixed-period job contracts.

Rajoy said today that undoing political and economic reforms will not be good for Spain, but he added that this "does not mean sensible changes cannot be made".