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Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas


The Basque Country and Madrid, take the lead among the Spanish regions in employment quality, which has improved since 2007, but with notable regional differences

La Fundación Ramón Areces y el Ivie construyen un índice sintético que mide la calidad del empleo a partir de 18 indicadores como la temporalidad, el salario, la siniestralidad o el horario laboral

The report La calidad del empleo en España y sus comunidades autónomas (Employment quality in Spain and its regions) was presented by Ramón Areces Foundation and Ivie. It includes a synthetic index of job quality in Spain by region, based on 18 indicators such as job stability, types of schedule and occupation, home/work balance, earnings and accident rates.

The report, developed by Ivie Researchers and Professors at the Universitat de València, Lorenzo Serrano and Ángel Soler, along with Ivie economist, Fernando Pascual, offers a job quality index for all of Spain and for each region. Overall, the data indicates that there was a 3.1-point increase in work quality between 2007 and 2022. This is evident for all the regions, except for Extremadura, where it continues to fall short of its 2007 level. Madrid, Catalonia, La Rioja, the Basque Country, and Navarre have higher total employment quality than the national average. On the other hand, Extremadura, the Canary Islands, Andalusia, and Murcia are the least favorable regions.

The job quality index proposed in the report is created based on 18 indicators for which information is available at regional level and which have been selected from among the 40 variables analyzed in the monograph. These 18 indicators are grouped into 5 categories: safety and ethics (number of accident, hour shifts and gender disparity); wages and benefits (remuneration, low pay and overtime hours); working hours and home/work balance (unwanted part-time work, working hours, long working hours and unusual working hours); safety and protection (hiring through temporary work agencies, precariousness, seniority, and  temporary work) and training and motivation (automation, qualification, overqualification and new job search). As previously indicated, most regions show progress in each of the five categories considered, reflecting a positive evolution of job quality since 2007. However, this does not mean that there are no relevant problems, some of which have become even worse, or significant regional differences.

In terms of job stability, the rate of temporary employment remained very high in the third quarter of 2023 (17.3%). Furthermore, 6% of the Spain’s employed population —or nearly half of those on part-time contracts— have accepted part-time jobs even though they preferred full-time. Long working hours (40 to 48 hours per week) and very long working hours (49 hours or more), which indicate an upturn following the pandemic, are another circumstance pertaining to working hours that has an impact on the quality of employment. In the third quarter of 2023, 41% of workers are working long hours and 5.8% are working very long hours.  Overall, in the third quarter of 2023, 14.8% of those in employment said they would prefer a different work schedule, either with more hours to increase their salary (9.1% of the employed) or with fewer hours or even giving up part of their salary (5.6%). The latter group has been increasing in the last few  years, while the number of workers who want to increase their working hours has decreased. A very evident indicator of job dissatisfaction is the percentage of employed people looking for a new job, 7.8% in the third quarter of 2023, a figure that is at record highs, approaching those of 2013, the worst year of the Great Recession.

Regarding progress in the quality of employment, the report highlights the increase in the percentage of highly-skilled occupations, which reached 35.3% of total employment. Even so, it is still below the EU-27 average (42.9%). Substantial mismatches are also noted in over-qualification, as 22.7% of workers with university degrees hold jobs that do not require higher education. Another factor is the occupational accident rate, in this case a substantial improvement is observed, with 2,951 accidents per 100,000 workers in 2022, compared to around 6,000 in the years prior to the great recession.

In terms of wages, the study confirms that progress has been disappointing, as the average wage has barely increased in real terms by 5.6% since 2007 and is below the levels reached in 2009 and 2010, with 16.6% of wage earners having wages below 2/3 of the average wage. The only clear advance in this aspect in Spain is the decrease of the gender wage gap, defined as the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women, which dropped nine points, from 19.1% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2021.

Finally, the report examines the relationship between telework and job quality, in light of the rise during the pandemic. Specifically, the percentage of employed people who telework all or part of their working day has increased from 8.3% in 2019 to 14% in 2022. Although, it is still below the European Union average, which stands at 22.4%. The authors emphasize that the success of this work formula depends on the collaboration between employees, companies, and society at large, as well as ongoing adaptation and learning in this new work environment. The effects of telework on job quality are unclear, much like the productivity in companies.

The analysis of the quality of employment in the Spanish regions indicates that those with better-quality jobs also tend to be more active, have higher employment rates, and, most importantly, have lower unemployment rates than the rest. This suggests that improving the quality of employment should not necessarily be at odds with continuing to reduce the unemployment rate. In short, job quality is an essential determinant of the welfare of individuals, families and society as a whole. For this reason, it has become the subject of growing interest and concern on the part of governments and social agents. The analysis of the various dimensions of employment related to its quality shows that, despite the progress made in the past, there are still serious shortcomings in the case of Spain and, in general, in its regions, but also notable variations among them. In line with the diversity of dimensions of the quality of employment and its determinants, its improvement is a challenge that calls for the cooperation of businesses, labor unions, governmental administrations, the educational system, and employees themselves. This collective effort will be more successful if the diagnosis is founded on current, comprehensive data on the specific characteristics of the problem.

14 November 2023