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2021 has started with bad news for the labor market, in the wake of the third wave of the coronavirus in Spain, which has caused new spikes in infections after the Christmas holidays that have led to new restrictions on mobility and activity, which have especially affected public-facing businesses such as commerce and hospitality, as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic.
This impact has been evidenced in the destruction of employment in the hospitality and leisure sectors, where nearly 345,000 jobs have been lost between February 2020 and the same month of this year, as revealed by the latest data on unemployment and Social Security affiliation. According to El País, almost 9 out of every 10 jobs destroyed by the coronavirus in the last 12 months correspond to hotel and catering, and commerce.
Specifically, hospitality has lost 296,000 jobs in the last year, a reduction of 18.9% and leaving the total number of employed in the sector at 1.27 million people, while artistic and recreational activities have left almost 48,900 jobs between February 2020 and February 2021, a reduction of 14.2% in one year to a total of 295,500 workers in the leisure sector.
The fall in enrollment in these 2 sectors exceeds that of other branches of activity, which show more moderate cuts, such as 5.8% fewer jobs in the other services category, of 3.9% in organization activities, of 2.9% in domestic jobs and activities in households and of 2.8% fewer in real estate activities.
Meanwhile, other sectors have shown an opposite behavior and have increased their employment level in the last 12 months, such as health activities and social services, which have added 87,000 jobs since February 2020, 5.1% more, public administration and defense, which has increased by 3.8%, agriculture, hunting, fishing, forestry and livestock by 2.4% more, and information and communications by 1.8% more.
In addition, the labor impact of the coronavirus in the hospitality industry is also evidenced by the number of workers included in temporary layoff plans (ERTE), which reached 909,600 affected on a monthly average in February and of which 49.14% correspond to catering and hotel accommodation services, while 0.45% correspond to arts and entertainment.
The hotel and catering sector had 326,988 employees in ERTE in February, while the hotel sector contributed another 120,011, according to El País, which points out that artistic and leisure activities have 4,100 employees in this situation. Given that the temporary suspension of the employment regime ends on May 31, the Government and the social agents are already studying alternatives to avoid an increase in unemployment, including direct aid to the hotel and catering industry and other sectors.