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Unemployment soars as coronavirus crisis takes toll on businesses

A further 21,833 were left without work in March, a jump of 5.52% in the last month


02 April 2020 09:33 AM


ACN | Barcelona

Unemployment went up by 21,833 people during the month of March, a jump of 5.52% in one month alone, as the coronavirus crisis takes its toll on workers and businesses. 

The figures were released by the ministry of labor today and showed that compared to March of 2019, unemployment has grown 21,307, a rise of 5.38%. In the same month in 2018, there were 481,181 jobless in Catalonia, while the number stood at 446,017 in March 2017. 

The highest unemployment figure in recent years was seen in February 2013, when 665,176 people were without work. 

In Spain as a whole, unemployment rose 9.31% in March compared to February and the number of unemployed reached 3,548,312, an increase of 302,265 jobless workers.

Catalonia closed 2019 with 405,800 unemployed people, 10.1% less than the previous year, according to data from January 31. At the moment, the highest figures are for the first quarter of 2009, when 640,700 people were without jobs.

Temporary layoffs

Added to this, the Catalan labor department has received requests from 83,943 companies for temporary layoffs, which in total affect more than 619,681 people in Catalonia (figures last updated April 6, 2:30 pm). 

This means that the total number of workers being made temporarily redundant during these exceptional circumstances as a result of the Covid-19 crisis represent over 17% of the employed population.

Catalan labor minister Chakir El Homrani argues that official unemployment figures offer only an "incomplete" image of the situation since they do not include the more than half a million in Catalonia who have been affected by temporary redundancy schemes since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

One third of businesses may begin insolvency procedures 

Meanwhile, one in three Catalan businesses think they’re going to have to start insolvency procedures as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.

Their latest report also found that one in two business owners are requesting extra funding.

"It's not good news," said Joan Canadell, president of the Catalan Chamber of Commerce, speaking to the Catalan News Agency (ACN) on Friday.

In addition, 40% of those that are self-employed say they do not meet the requirements to apply for support from the Spanish government, while another 15% have decided to halt their activity due to the crisis.




  • A man speaks to a worker at a Catalan employment office booth (by Lluís Sibils)

  • A man speaks to a worker at a Catalan employment office booth (by Lluís Sibils)