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Spain - Canarias

Short overview of the labour market


The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands is an archipelago lying to the west of the African Western Sahara and is one of the so-called outermost regions of the European Union. The geographical coordinates are Latitude 27º37’ and 29º25’ N and Longitude 13º20’ and 18º10’ W. The region lies more than 1 200 km from the Iberian Peninsula and just over 2 000 km from the capital of Spain. The Canary Islands are volcanic in origin and form part of the natural region of Macaronesia together with the archipelagos of Cape Verde, the Azores, Madeira and the Savage Islands.

The region covers an area of 7 446.95 km2, has 2 098 649 inhabitants, a population density of 281.81 inhabitants/km2 and is the eighth region of Spain in terms of population size.

It consists of two provinces: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. The first consists of four islands which, in order of population are: Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The second consists of three islands: Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. There is an eighth populated island called La Graciosa, which is attached for administrative purposes to the municipality of Teguise in Lanzarote.

The population of the Canary Islands recorded a decrease of 0.29 % compared to 2014. It has decreased by a total of to 0.94 % over the last five years.

There are 252 278 foreign nations residing in this Autonomous Community, which represents 12.02 % of the total population. The most numerous, in order, are Italians, Germans, British, Moroccans, Colombians and Cubans.

The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands has a business structure based on small and medium-sized enterprises. According to figures from the Central Companies Directory, published by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics for 1 January 2015, 91.82 % of the companies employed five or fewer workers and 0.69 % employed 50 workers or under. According to the records, eight companies have more than 1 000 workers and only one of these has more than 5 000 employees.

According to data from the Labour Force Survey of the National Institute of Statistics for the third quarter of 2015, the population of people over 16 was 1 798 300, the active population was 1 110 700, 793 500 were employed and 317 200 were unemployed. The rate of unemployment was 28.56 %, which is more than seven percentage points above the national rate and second among all Spanish Autonomous Communities. The rate was 27.35 % in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and 29.70 % in Las Palmas. The female unemployment rate (31.49 %) was over five points higher than the male rate (26.08 %). The activity rate was 61.76 %, just over two percentage points higher than the national rate.

The Services sector is the dominant economic sector on the islands. The percentage of registered companies is 87.41 % of the total and the number of workers included in this sector exceeds 80 % of the total. At national level, the number of Social Security accounts exceeds 81 % in this sector, while the percentage of workers stands at 78 %. The economic crisis has mainly affected the Construction sector and has caused the progressive reduction in this sector’s contribution in terms of employment, which currently accounts for 4.9 % of the working population in the Canary Islands.

The arrival of more than 13 million tourists in 2014 set a new record on the islands, breaking that set in 2013. There was a significant increase in tourist arrivals in 2014 encouraged by confidence in the two major countries of origin (the UK and Germany), the incorporation of new markets (Russia and France) and the political problems in competing destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and neighbouring countries.

According to information from the National Public Employment Service’s Jobs Observatory, in September 2015, there were 242 313 unemployed people (9.12 % less than the previous September) registered in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, representing 5.92 % of the total number of unemployed persons in Spain. Of these 112 831 were men and 129 482 were women. 74.93 % were registered in the Services sector, 13.03 % in Construction, 5.65 % had not previously worked at all, 4.38 % were in Industry and 2.02 % in Agriculture. Decreases since September 2014 were reported in all economic sectors. 87.22 % of the contracts were in Services and 51.20 % were signed by men.


Text last edited on: 02/2016

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