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Excerpted from the Spain Career Guide

General Trends

Spain experienced a decade of above-average economic growth leading into the 21st century but its economy was hit hard by the global recession of 2008. Construction and manufacturing sectors suffered the most. Furthermore, the rapid pace of technological change and globalization left Spain behind, and the country’s inadequate labor structure was unable to keep up with changes.

Employment Outlook

Since its shift to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain’s labor market has been characterized by high unemployment and a tendency to melt down during global crises. Even during good periods, unemployment has never been lower than 7.95 percent. Spain has Europe’s second-highest level of unemployment, after Greece. Unemployment is highest in the region of Andalucia, where more than 36 percent of the working population is unemployed.

Spain’s labor market is showing small signs of improvement. Last year, there were about 40,000 fewer unemployed workers, and a year-on-year 1.16 percent decline in unemployment was the largest drop recorded since the first quarter of 2007.

Areas of Job Promise

Professionals with higher education and qualifications have better chances of finding work and eventually flourishing in Spain. The unemployment rate among jobseekers with undergraduate university degrees is half that of the general population, dropping to one-third for those with post-graduate degrees. Also, candidates with university degrees remain unemployed for shorter periods of time. Professionals with master’s degrees earn more (university graduates earn average annual salaries that are 57 percent more than the national average), have access to roles of higher responsibility, have a lower level of unemployment and typically experience less instability.


Compared to pre-crisis levels, wages in Spain are falling. Although this has helped increase Spain’s competitiveness and promote recovery, it is difficult for workers, especially those in low-wage positions.

The average gross annual salary is 22,726 EUR, according to the latest figures from the Spanish government, almost 1 percent lower than last year. The highest wages are found in the Basque country, while the lowest wages are in the Canaries, a region that depends heavily on tourism.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Spain Guide.

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