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Spain - Cantabria

Short overview of the labour market


The Autonomous Community of Cantabria, located in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula's northern coast, covers 5 321 km2 and has 284 km of coastline along the Cantabrian Sea. According to municipal register data for 2017, 581 477 people reside in Cantabria, slightly down from the previous year's figure in line with the general trend for the Kingdom of Spain as a whole. The average age of the population is approximately 45 (35 for foreigners) and life expectancy is over 83. 51.2 % of the population are women and 48.8 % are men. The population density is 109 inhabitants/km2. Regarding the origin of the population, three quarters are from the region itself and of the remaining 25 %, two out of three are from other Spanish provinces and the rest were born abroad, mostly in Europe and Latin America. In recent years, the number of people from non Member States has decreased significantly as a result of the economic crisis.

The bulk of the population, and hence economic activity, is found on the coast along the so-called “Arc of the Bay and Besaya extension“ which encompasses the major cities of Santander and Torrelavega, the former known for its services sector and the latter for its industrial activity. The coast features a mild temperate Atlantic climate with moderate temperature fluctuations and average annual temperatures of approximately 16 ºC, precipitation in the vicinity of 1 100 mm and over 1 600 hours of sun. The inland area has more of a moderate continental climate. Additional data supplementing the census show that 70 % of commutes from home to work —by any means including walking— take under 20 minutes.

Most forecasts for 2018 call for a positive scenario. Gross domestic product (GDP) at the close of 2017 will be growing at approximately 3 %. The Autonomous Community of Cantabria, accounting for approximately 1.2 % of national GDP, is also part of the positive trend although with a slightly lower growth rate. The bulk of economic sectors are growing, especially services and even construction which, after years of strong recession, is showing signs of reactivation. The following sub-sectors are performing particularly well: trade, transport, accommodation and food services, the automotive sector, information and communications (ICT). Per capita income in Cantabria is only slightly below the national average. Average gross monthly salaries in Cantabria are in the vicinity of EUR 1 900.

The Central Directory of Companies (DIRCE) shows a total of 38 459 companies in Cantabria with 43 614 active premises or work centres. Cantabria’s business structure is highly atomised. In fact, more than half of the companies have no employees and of those that do, 82 % have fewer than six; companies with over 50 workers account for only 1.6 % of the total number of companies. The most common legal form of companies is that of natural person and private limited company (PLC). From a quantitative standpoint, the region’s main activities are Retail and wholesale trade, Food and beverage services, Building construction and related occupations, Land transport, Real estate activities, Personal services, Legal and accounting activities, Health care activities, Education activities and Architectural and engineering activities, accounting for nearly three quarters of the active premises. The number of people on public social security rolls is on the rise; the total in September 2017 was 213 911, 21 % of whom are self-employed workers.

The labour market continued to perform very well based both on data from the labour force survey (LFS) and different public registers, especially those of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. The number of workers on social security rolls and the number of contracts is increasing and unemployment is down. Moreover, according to Q3 2017 LFS data, in Cantabria the activity rate was 55.78 % and the unemployment rate was 12.67 %, worse and better than the national figures: 58.92 % and 16.38 %, respectively.

According to information from the Public State Employment Service's Occupational Monitoring Centre, in September 2017 there were 37 149 unemployed persons (including the rise at the end of the summer tourist season). This is a year-on-year decline of nearly 10 percentage points. The annual cumulative volume of labour recruitment through September increased by 10.95 %. This was one of the indicators performing the best although the figures were tainted by an excess of temporary contracts. In short, these data confirm significant improvement in the labour market and, as already mentioned, these improvements are reflected in government registers and surveys thus confirming a brighter labour situation.


Text last edited on: 03/2018

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