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Indefinite contracts soar in March: almost a third of the contracts signed were permanent | Economy

A waiter in a bar in Seville.
A waiter in a bar in Seville.Alejandro begs (THE COUNTRY)

While the economy lives pending the effects caused by the devastating war started by Russia in Ukraine, and citizens do accounts to see how they fill the fridge and the tank of their car, the labor market has managed to isolate itself within a trench to stay , for the moment, sheltered from the consequences of the conflict. The data for the month of March are not only better than those of the previous month, but also those of any other: unemployment fell compared to February to stand at 3,108,763 people, the lowest figure for this month since 2008; and the number of Social Security affiliates increased ―in non-seasonalized terms―, by just over 140,000 workers, reaching 19,834,504, the highest figure for this period of the year since 2001. But the brightest box of the statistics released this Monday by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Social Security is based on hiring: for the first time, since the historical series began, more than half a million permanent contracts have been signed in one month: 513,677 almost one in three.

Not even during the first two weeks of March, when the rise in energy prices due to the increase in energy costs began to show, employment was not affected by the war in Ukraine. The advanced data presented by José Luis Escrivá, Minister of Social Security, did not warn that galloping inflation could cause a distortion in the labor market. Among other reasons, according to Escrivá, because the entry into force of the labor reform had disrupted the hiring paradigm, placing the indefinite person at the center of labor relations.

Since the new norm has been in force, in the first quarter of the year more than one million fixed contracts have been made (1,069,190), and their percentage with respect to the total has only increased: in January it was 15%, in February rose to 21.9%; and in March it has doubled compared to how the year began, 30.7%. Although temporary contracts continue to be the main modality (1,158,164 in the last month), permanent contracts are close to representing a third of the total, an unparalleled representation in statistics.

In fact, the true dimension of the cultural change sought with the new legislative framework appears in the year-on-year comparison: between the months of January, February and March 2021, a total of 463,813 permanent contracts were recorded, less than half than a year then. And where they have burst in with more force is precisely in the sectors in which there was a high rate of temporary employment, such as construction, where almost half of the new contracts were of an indefinite nature (41.3%).

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However, agriculture has been the productive vector that has historically capitalized on the highest rates of temporary employment, and it is, therefore, now, where the transformation is most pressing. Comparing the months of March 2019 ―the last one that was not affected by the pandemic―, and 2022, the number of permanent contracts has skyrocketed by 361.8% in the field; even ahead of construction (236.1%), where the companies that had been resorting to the formula of the contract for work or service will no longer be able to do so, after the three-month period that granted them the labour reform. Even so, for contracts of this type that were signed during the legal vacancy of the new rule may be extended up to six months.

The improvement in employment has benefited the group of women, the only one that has fallen compared to the February data (-9,219). Men and those under 25 years of age, on the other hand, increased the number of unemployed by 6,298 and 7,365 people, respectively.

However, the number of those affected by a temporary employment regulation file (ERTE) reached a new minimum in March: 26,142 workers, of which 23,662 were covered under the COVID modality. Within this group, a large percentage is again represented by travel agency employees (9,175), on whom the Government agreed in the last Council of Ministers to activate the RED Mechanism for this sector, and thus replace the ERTE protection scheme. by COVID that has been protecting them for the last two years.

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