The pandemic is tightening, but less and less stifling the labor market. With the impact of the virus surrounded by the vaccine firewall, the return of activity allows employers and workers to breathe more comfortably, even if it is still through the mask. The data on registered unemployment for September, released this Monday by the Ministries of Labor and Social Security, show that the recovery has not lost its momentum, but rather the opposite. To such an extent that some of the wounds opened by the virus begin to heal. This is the case of female unemployment, huge during much of the pandemic, and which accumulates seven months down in 2021 and is already at figures practically similar to those of the pre-Coronaviral era.
September ended with 3,257,802 unemployed workers, of which 1,932,239 were women (59.3%). However, this figure is the result of seven consecutive months of biting the amount with which the year began (2,273,375). Although between the months of January and February the number of unemployed workers grew to 2,304,779 (+31,404), the highest peak during the pandemic, since then the number has dropped considerably: today there are 372,540 fewer unemployed (- 16.16%).
Thanks to this cadence, replicated both at a general level and by putting the magnifying glass on the distinction between sexes, the unemployment data is increasingly close to being in tune with those prior to the pandemic. Although there are currently fewer men unemployed than in February 2019, the last monthly payment without a trace of the virus, (1,325,563 to 1,360,225), women are also close to tying with those records (+3,424).
The figures for 2020, the ones that most punished the group of working women, are beginning to get farther and farther away: between January and December, female unemployment went from 1,896,873 unemployed to 2,225,121 (+328,248). And even more so when unemployment reached its maximum in the pandemic. It happened last February and the four million unemployed were surpassed for the first time (4,008,789). At that time, women represented 57.4% of the total, and were dangerously close to the barrier of two and a half million unemployed.
However, the numbers reflect trends, but they do so from a statistical coldness that sometimes hides opposite realities. At least that is the opinion of Lola Santillana, secretary of Employment and professional qualification of CC OO. “That apparently the gender gap that has exacerbated the pandemic is closing does not mean that the situation between men and women has become equal,” he acknowledges. “During the pandemic, it has been seen how women have been able to maintain their employment in sectors such as education or health, traditionally feminized, but that does not mean that the working conditions with respect to men are the same today,” he adds.
Santillana focuses, for example, on another batch of data that shows the still existence of this differentiation between the sexes: temporary hiring. According to the latest records, 1,923,846 contracts were signed in September, of which 1,707,158 were temporary (88.7%) and only 216,688 (11.3%) were permanent. Entering the guts of these hires, of the 894,925 agreements that women carried out, 788,970 (88.1%) were temporary. “It is necessary to put a stop to the temporality, and to improve the working conditions of men and women”, claims Santillana. To do this, it proposes a “diversification of occupations” that does not corner women in very specific sectors.
Disaggregated by age, this drop in female unemployment registered in 2021 finds a greater reflection among women over 25 years of age: of the 2,100,682 with whom the year began, only 1,807,807 remain (-318,989). Similarly, in the under-25 band, the drop is equally significant, although the numbers are somewhat less opulent: from 172,693 to 124,432 (-48,261).
As a general rule, Social Security affiliations are placed on the reverse of the labor currency, and there women have also gained weight. The ministry data is revealing. In the first place, because the number of employed persons has not stopped growing throughout 2021: from the 8,779,888 with which January began, it has risen in September to 9,087,731 (+307,843). It is true that in percentage terms the figure has barely changed: from 46.63% to 46.53%.