The emergency of unemployment, the urgency of having a government
The unemployment figures for February are another bucket of cold water, another negative month for the labour market. Catalonia has added 4,209 more unemployed and the total number of unemployed is already soaring at 512,290, a figure that had not been reached since January 2016. It is the largest monthly increase in February in the last nine years. In these twelve months of covid-19 the number of unemployed has grown by 117,076, a 29% increase. It has only decreased in July and September, when it did so very timidly. The situation, therefore, is worrying. The pandemic is dragging on, the vaccination process is slower than expected and businesses are not working at full capacity, stranded as they are in uncertainty. Many businesses are at the limit of their endurance, so that, once the furlough scheme comes to an end - in Catalonia there are 190,000 workers in this situation, 20,000 more than in January - the outlook could be even bleaker, more delicate. In Spain, where the symbolic barrier of 4 million unemployed has just been surpassed and there are almost 900,000 employees on furlough, the situation and the outlook for the immediate future is just as bad. So far, the desire of the Catalan and Spanish governments to give good news, to create a minimally optimistic climate to accompany the way out of the pandemic and economic crisis does not reverse the harsh reality, which is what it is: covid-19 will take time to disappear and will continue to interfere in society for some time, with all that this entails in terms of economic downtime. Therefore, rather than making toasts to the sun, what is needed is concrete and effective policies, carried out side by side with social entities and businesses.
The fact is that in twelve months the tables have turned. A year ago, jobs were being created, basically in the service sector. Now they are being being destroyed, especially in this same sector. It is not easy to stop the drain and suddenly we have two urgent needs: to stop the blow and, at the same time, to change towards a more industrial model, towards the creation of jobs with more added value and which are therefore more secure. Tourism, an industry with low wages and low training requirements, will continue to suffer for a long time. Its exaggerated weight in the GDP was already a detected problem and now it is a drama. The Catalan economy needs to make a real turnaround that requires resources, intelligence and medium and long-term strategies. To make the turnaround and the recovery possible, in addition to the necessary injection of public resources to help the business sector, clear political and strategic leadership is needed. And here it is essential to call once again for the swift formation of a government in Catalonia that will work together to get the country out of the crisis. A government that, moreover, acts once and for all in a cohesive and decisive manner, with the utmost technical expertise, and with the unpostponable objective of making it possible for wealth to be created again and that, at the same time, cares for the victims of the social crisis that we are already experiencing and that could worsen even further if the labour market does not recover. Without viable businesses, many families will have a very hard time. Unemployment makes it even more urgent to have a solid government.