Last month figures showed that Spains unemployment was the highest in Europe. The knock on effects of the collapse of the construction industry are really making themselves felt here. The unemployment rate here now affects 11.3% of the active population, compared to 8.3% just a year ago.
The average rate across the European Union comes in at just 7.5%
The numbers come from Eurostat which names Spain as the EU country with the highest unemployment rate, followed by Slovakia at 9,9%. The Spanish government has taken measures to help those who lose their jobs and have mortgages under 170000 euros. Of course official figures are only part of the story,we cannot ignore the black economy and those caught up in it.
The real struggle is for those already at the bottom of the pile. That includes an awful lot of expats who have been pushed to work without a legal contract by employers wanting to save money. Without doubt there are some expats who would not have taken a contract if they could have one, the employers are still breaking the law by allowing employees to work without a contract of course. For what ever reasons we have a lot of desperate and often frightened people around who have no idea where there next penny is coming from. Its is worrying to see how easy it is to reach this stage, how so much has depended on the continuing prosperity of one industry.
I have heard quite a few expats,usually retired or working, who say we did the Spanish some sort of favour by coming here. For myself I cannot see that. To believe that you would have to buy into the idea that only our, north European, way of life is the correct one. If I may quote one expat "they were all peasants growing oranges". Well a lot of the oranges groves are now built over with houses that no one lives in. I know its been Spanish companies who built them and took a lot of the wealth but once again that means a few have benefited while a large number have worked hard but now are on the scrapheap. The bubble has most surely burst and an awful lot on locals and expats are now caught in the downpour. You can bet quite a lot would rather be peasants with an orange grove.