Youth unemployment in Spain is the highest in the Eurozone: more than one in two (52%) young people between 18 and 24 who are looking for a job can not find one. This is a terrible situation that endangers a whole generation, but more complex than meets the eye. The following graphs contextualize the reality of youth unemployment in Spain.
Main Activity of Spanish young people (18-24)
More than two thirds of Spaniards from 18 to 24 are either working or still in education. With the crisis, young Spaniards are staying in education longer (or even returning to it), and early abandoning of school is at an all-time low.
Comparison of Young People (18-24) Not Working or Educating and Training (NEET) in the EU, (2002, 2007 and 2011) (%)
In 2011 23.1% of young people in Spain (18 to 24) are not working or studying (around 800,000 people), which is higher than any other EU country except Bulgaria (27.9), Italy (25.2), Greece (24.4) and Ireland (23.9) against a 16.7% EU27 average. By now, one in four Spaniards between 18 and 24 is officially neither working nor studying. A lot, but not as much as the 52.7% of official youth unemployment rate.
Unemployment in Spain by Age (2005-2012) (Thousands)
Unemployment is hitting 18-24 y.o. hard, but they actually make a smaller percentage of the total amount of unemployed people than they did in 2005 (down from 25.6 % down to 16.3 % in the first quarter of 2012), as they have the alternative to stay longer in education. The group that grew the fastest is people unemployed at 45-54, a worrying development as they tend to be less employable or likely to retrain.
People in Spain Searching for a Job by Age and Time in Unemployment
(1=Ten thousand persons)
Unemployment benefits in Spain stop after 2 years. Ten percent of people unemployed for more than 2 years are under 25. They are people who started working before the age of 23, often in lowly qualified jobs in the services and industry, but in particular in construction. This group, and the much larger group of long term unemployed between 25 and 34 (1 in 4 unemployed person is in this age group) is the one that is slowly decimated by returns of immigrants (most of the migrants that return or migrate forward to another country are under 35) and very incipient emigration of Spain-born youngsters.
* The maximum coverage of unemployment benefit in Spain is 2 years, and is fully available only to those workers who have contributed the social security for a period equal to 6 years.