Labour market information

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Spain - Canarias

Short overview of the labour market


The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, and is one of the European Union’s outermost regions. Its coordinates are north latitude 27º37’ and 29º25’ and west longitude 13º20’ and 18º10’. It is a little more than 1 200 km from the Iberian Peninsula and just over 2 000 km from the capital of Spain.

In terms of physical space, it is formed of eight islands, while politically, the archipelago consists of seven administratively independent islands and one, La Graciosa, which is in the process of becoming an official district.

It has two provinces: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The first of these comprises Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma, while the second comprises Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

The region has an area of 7 446 95 km2, 2 152 590 inhabitants as of 1 January 2019, and a population density of 289.06 inhabitants per square kilometre. This Autonomous Community ranks eighth in Spain in terms of population. The population of the Canary Islands has risen by 1.17 % since 2018. Growth over the last five years stands at 2.49 %.

The non-national population residing in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands (276 680) accounts for 12.85 % of the total population. The main countries of origin, with more than 13 000 non-nationals residing in the Canary Islands from each of them, are as follows, ranked in order: Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Cuba, and Colombia.

The business structure of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands is based on small and medium-sized enterprises. According to data from the Central Directory of Companies of the National Statistics Office, the business community of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands comprises 146 126 registered companies, of which 56.17 % (82 085) have no employees, 35.17 % have five employees or fewer, and 8.66 % have more than five employees. There are only 13 companies with more than 1 000 employees and only one of these employs more than 5 000 employees. According to the national business ranking published in ‘El’, the largest companies in the Canary Islands are: Disa (Grupo), Dinosol Supermercados and Traveltino 2009. In the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the top three are Disa Suministros y Trading SL, Traveltino 2009 SL and Disa Red de Servicios Petrolíferos, SA. In the province of Las Palmas, the largest are Unión Eléctrica de Canarias Generación, SA, Dinosol Supermercados SL and Cooperativa Farmacéutica Canaria.

According to Labour Force Survey (LFS) data from Q3 2019, of the total population aged 16 and over in the Canary Islands (1 900 500), 1 130 700 are economically active, of whom 891 200 are employed and 239 600 are unemployed. The employment rate was 21.9 %, seven percentage points above the national average, giving the Canary Islands the second highest unemployment rate after the Autonomous Community of Andalusia. The unemployment rate was 19.43 % in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and 22.86 % in Las Palmas. The activity rate reached 59.50 %, a little under one percentage point higher than the national average (58.72 %).

In 2018, the services sector was the most important to the islands’ economy, with 86.02 % of all registered companies and 87.27 % of employees engaged in this sector. Nationally, those percentages were 80.56 % and 80 %, respectively.

Between January and September 2019, a total of 11 205 630 tourists visited the islands, down 2.59 % on the same period the previous year. The majority of non-national tourists came from the United Kingdom and Germany, although domestic tourism was also significant. The most visited islands were Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, with a total of 4 391 965, 3 090 228 and 2 318 125 visitors, respectively.

According to information from the Jobs Observatory of the National Public Employment Service, in September 2019 there were 204 529 unemployed persons in the Canary Islands (0.44 % fewer than in September of the previous year), accounting for 6.64 % of the total number of unemployed persons in Spain. Of these, 87 794 were men and 116 735 women. 75.87 % were engaged in the services sector, 8.31 % had never worked before, 8.31 % were in construction, 3.88 % were in industry, and 2.05 % in agriculture. Compared to September 2018, there were downturns in all economic sectors except for agriculture, which registered a 4.85 % increase.


Text last edited on: 08/2020