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Canary Islands Unemployment rate is the highest in Europe, if you include those on ERTE

Canary Islands Unemployment rate is the highest in Europe, if you include those on ERTE

The Canary Islands are once again officially the region with the highest unemployment in Europe, reports Spanish language daily La Provincia this Monday. However to reach that conclusion they have added the official statistics regarding registered unemployed to the number not currently working because they are on the Spanish furlough system, known as a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE), workers who, although they do not officially count within the national stats, are, say the newspaper, de facto unemployed with an uncertain employment future, ranking the archipelago in first place out of more than 200 territories across Europe.

The Canary Islands are once again officially the region with the highest unemployment in Europe, reports Spanish language daily La Provincia this Monday. However to reach that conclusion they have added the official statistics regarding registered unemployed to the number not currently working because they are on the Spanish furlough system, known as a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE), workers who, although they do not officially count within the national stats, are, say the newspaper, de facto unemployed with an uncertain employment future, ranking the archipelago in first place out of more than 200 territories across Europe.

The European Office for Statistics recorded the Canary Islands closing 2020 with an unemployment rate of 22.6%, placing the Archipelago officially as fourth in the EU, when the data for this particular indicator stood at its highest, as the year ended. According to Eurostat, – which analyses the employment figures for those between 15 and 74 years of age –, there were 248,500 unemployed on the Islands at that time. However, the reality within the Archipelago’s labour market, goes much deeper, with the ERTE in place since the beginning of the health crisis, just over a year ago.

Therefore, argues Dalia Guerra, the true unemployment rate rises well above this 22.6% when you add those who have had their contracts temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. In fact, if the 79,206 people still on ERTE at the end of 2020 were counted as unemployed, the total number would reach 327,706 and the unemployment rate in the Canary Islands would stand at 29.8%. In other words, 30 out of every hundred islanders of working age cannot go to their jobs still. A 7.2% difference that is not being recognised in official statistics

Were Eurostat to count the workers affected by ERTE as unemployed, the unemployment rate in the Canary Islands would place us highest among the European regions with the most unemployment. The Archipelago would be well above the region with the officially highest unemployment in the European Union, that of the French-governed island of Mayotte, located in an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean which registered an unemployment rate of 27.8% at the end of 2020.

The Canary Islands have been impacted more heavily than other communities in Spain. The economy of the Archipelago depends to a great extent on the millions of visitors who come to spend their holidays on the Islands every year, a tourism trade that has been practically paralysed for more than twelve months. This has significantly impacted the labor market on the Islands, where unemployment has risen to rates rarely seen in a territory already used to very high unemployment figures, the nearly 80,000 people still subject to a Temporary Regulatory File of Employment (ERTE) and are de facto unemployed, without officially becoming so.

The truth is that the Canary Islands, which already suffered from structural unemployment before the pandemic, has historically always been among the European regions in which this indicator is highest. In 2019, before the coronavirus dynamited tourism activity, the Archipelago was already ranked number eleven Europe , with an unemployment rate of 20.5%. While the lowest rate in Europe, is the Polish region of Wielkopolskie which in 2020 saw just 1.8% unemployment.

According to Eurostat figures, released last week, the Canary Islands were also among the five European regions with the highest youth unemployment in 2020. Specifically, the Islands have the fifth highest unemployment rate of 15 to 24 year olds in the EU, standing at 51.6% throughout the Archipelago. Half of all young Canarians in that age group are registered as looking for work.

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