Thousands of job losses in Spain with thousands more under threat
Thousands of jobs under threat as the coronavirus crisis caused an 80 per cent drop in August.
The amount spent on public works in Spain is not one of the statistics which usually attract the most attention among members of the general public, but this year they illustrate graphically the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic is affecting all sectors of the economy and placing large numbers of jobs at risk.
Public works contracts are generally awarded to giant construction companies which directly and indirectly keep hundreds of thousands of people employed in Spain (1.25 million in the whole of the construction sector, according to the latest Active Population Survey, which was published on Tuesday).
However, this year of course the spending priorities of the national government and its regional counterparts have been hurriedly rearranged to deal with the coronavirus crisis, and the effects can be seen in the latest public works spending figures which were published on Monday.
The data show that during August the value of public works contracts awarded fell by 80 per cent in comparison with the total for the same month in 2019 to 109.6 million euros (as opposed to 583 million euros last year), and that in the first 8 months of 2020 the cumulative figure has dropped by 54 per cent.
At the same time, the largest single contractor, Grupo Fomento (which includes airport management company AENA, rail infrastructures companies ADIF and Renfe and Spain’s ports) invested 75 per cent less this August (93.9 million euros as opposed to 375 million), and the running total for the year now stands at just over 1,000 million euros: this is obviously a very large amount of money, but represents a drastic reduction on the equivalent figure of 3,500 million euros at the same point last year.
Neither is there any sign of a reversal in the downward trend, with the numbers for August being 25 per cent lower than in July for all public administrations and 24 per cent lower for Grupo Fomento, and all of the indications are that the effects of the pandemic on Spain’s economy and the unemployment figures will continue to be felt over the coming months as the second wave of the virus continues.
The sector however, is not unduly pessimistic as the cash injection of the European Covid Recovery Fund will free up cash within the regional and national administrations, some of which will be spent on major projects which expect to create employment and stimulate economic activity.
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