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why did the crisis hit more immigrant workers?

Via DivulgaUNED. By Laura Chaparro (OTRI-UNED)


The foreign population is concentrated in the sectors most affected by the crisis. This trend, coupled with the abundance of temporary contracts and lower levels of qualification and work experience of immigrants, explains that the bad economic situation they have been hit harder than Spanish.

Until 2007, the occupation of foreign workers and spaniards was very similar, skimming an employment rate of 90%. This balance was seen to be truncated by the economic crisis, which has reduced around of 10 percentage points in the rate of total employment and that has affected, in a greater proportion of the immigrant population.

“The concentration of foreign workers in the occupations and sectors most affected by the crisis explains, in large measure, why they are suffering more losses than the Spanish,” says Jacobo Muñoz Comet, a researcher at the Department of Sociology II at the UNED and senior author of the study.

According to data from the Survey of Active Population, while nearly 70% of the foreigners were working at between 2008 and 2010 in occupations level of qualification more low, less than 35% of spaniards working in these positions. To the construction, the sector most hit by the crisis, was dedicated nearly half of the immigrants.

Minor differences between women

The article, published in the Notebooks of Economic Information, reflects that these differences are reduced in the case of the female population. “The gap between Spanish and foreign in the years of economic crisis is not as great as that observed between Spanish men and foreign,” explains Muñoz Comet.

The sector of services to the consumer has been the biggest employment losses has been recorded among the female population, more than 30%. Between 2008 and 2010, the relative weight of the workers invasives in this area was four times higher than that of the Spanish, a trend that is reversed with the second sector most affected: the distribution and the trade, where the workers Spanish outnumbered the foreign.

No differences are observed between the sexes at the time of identifying the nationality most affected by unemployment, that is the african, as much in men as in women.

In terms of the type of contract, more than 70% of the job losses are corresponded to the modality temporary. The foreign population also in this case, was hired in greater proportion with this formula: 50% of immigrant men had a temporary contract compared to 23% of spaniards. In women the percentage is similar, with 40% of foreign employees temporarily compared to 28% of Spanish.

The human capital, the guarantee of success

The study reveals, therefore, that the foreign workers are concentrated in those jobs that, during the economic crisis, have been lost more easily, as is the case of the construction for men and services to the consumer for women. However, the authors of the article found that, regardless of the type of job, loss of employment of the immigrant population is, in relative terms, always higher than that of the Spanish.

“The differences between foreigners and spaniards in terms of educational level, potential time in the Spanish labour market and experience in the business help to explain the greater loss of employment among the immigrant population,” says the researcher.

These three factors are used to measure a concept known as human capital, which refers to the capabilities and skills of the people and that is key to understanding the employment situation of the population.

The sociologist is studying now if the foreign population retrieves the job more quickly than the native-born population. Pending conclusion of the investigation, “the likelihood of recovering the employment during the years of the economic crisis seems to be quite similar among all the groups of nationality, something which was not the case before 2008,” he advances.

Bibliographic reference:

Jacobo Muñoz Comet, Irma Mooi Reci. “Why do foreign workers experience more job loss during the economic crisis?”. Notebooks of Economic Information (Funcas), no. 225, December 2011.