29.2% of the employment created since the outbreak of the pandemic corresponds to foreign workers, according to Social Security data. Since April 2020 They have added 696,224 average members and reach a all-time high of 2.67 million at the end of 2023. Although immigration barely accounts for 12% of the total number of employed people, its growth rate triples that of nationals: 35% versus 10%.
The fourth month of 2020 It was the worst moment of the crisis in terms of employment. Membership hit rock bottom with 18.45 million employed people, compared to the 19.53 million registered in July 2019, a time considered the pre-pandemic maximum. But the labor market recovered quickly, exceeding the thresholds prior to the outbreak of Covid19 just one year later. In 2023 it has reached a record of 20.8 million members.
In this time, Spanish affiliates have added 1.68 million new workers, while immigrants have incorporated 696,224. That despite their small weight in total employment (12.8%) they contribute a third of new affiliations implies that they have experienced much greater dynamism than national ones. Something that confirms the cumulative growth rate in the period: that of foreigners more than triples that of nationals.
Several factors coincide in this impulse. The first, obviously, is the intense ‘rebound’ of activity after the pandemic, which has gone beyond simple recovery to far exceed the moderate trend that seemed to follow before the health crisis. The second, the later recovery of the sectors most affected by confinementswho have intensely taken advantage of the arrival of foreign workers after the opening of the borders.
Do they compensate for the lack of labor?
This could explain why, although the evolution of national and migrant employment had followed a similar trend before and in the first months of the pandemic, starting in 2021 their behavior has become increasingly different. This coincides with a time when businessmen They complain about the lack of labor among nationals.
This demand It occurs especially in sectors with a greater migrant workforce. The hospitality industry, which employs 19% of foreign affiliates, commerce, which reaches 17.2%, construction, which reaches 11.9%, and ‘administrative activities’, a heading that includes office jobs that are considered low qualifications (and low remuneration), among them, ‘call center’ activities.
Precisely, when analyzing the composition of foreign employment created between April 2020 and the end of 2023, we verify that those that have the most weight in the creation of foreign employment in this period are also commerce (14.6%), administrative activities ( 13.7%), construction (13.1%) and hospitality (10.9%). Which supports the thesis that the hiring of immigrants is intensifying as the confinements relax.
The one from the lack of labor It is one of the great debates in the labor market after the pandemic, despite the fact that Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe. A situation that would lead companies to hire foreigners, given the supposed refusal of nationals to accept certain jobs. Although this analysis admits an additional nuance.
Although, as we say in elEconomista.esthe resignation rate has rebounded after the labor reform, especially among permanent workers, continues to cause five times fewer casualties than the end or interruption of a temporary contract. And the truth is that, if we break down unemployment by nationality, we can see that Spaniards continue to register an unemployment rate of 10.7%. Of course, that of immigrants exceeds 17%.
Have a job It is the most common way to obtain and renew a residence permit, so it is not difficult to conclude that their higher unemployment rate makes them a potentially greater fishing ground for certain jobs, especially the lowest paid ones. Your contribution base, your gross salary, is 22% lower than that of national workers, as revealed by Social Security data.
In this sense, the case of construction is striking: although it has incorporated 78,496 new members since the pandemic, only 250 come from the original hiring plan launched by the Government to bring qualified workers into a sector in which employers speak of up to 700,000 vacancies to be filled. Although yes, the increase has occurred in all branches of activity, except in embassies and extraterritorial organizations, where it has decreased by 96 people.
Colombia, Venezuela, Morocco… and Italy?
Where do these immigrants come from? If we compare the nationalities, those that increase the most are Moroccans (105,481 new affiliates), Venezuelans (85,312) and Moroccans (69,519). It is surprising that fourth place is occupied by Italy, which has added 56,563 average net affiliates. The Chinese, in comparison, have only incorporated 37,518 members. The Ukrainians are far behindwhich despite the exodus after the war have only incorporated 21,653 workers into the labor market.
One explanation for what is happening with Italians is that many are immigrants with dual nationality, probably second generation, who have chosen to look for work in Spain in the face of the anti-immigration policies developed in recent years in a country whose economic situation It is not so different from the Spanish one, in terms of unemployment and quality of employment.
Their case is more striking if we compare it with that of Romanian citizens, who represent 12% of the migrant workforce in Spain (Italians are already 6.5%), but have only increased by 3,400 people after the pandemic. , a rebound that is equivalent to 0.49% of the accumulated total of foreign workers. In any case, although it is early to talk about permanent changes in labor migration flows after the pandemic, Foreign affiliation continues to be concentrated mainly in Spanish-speaking countries.