Impact of economic crisis on unemployed people

Among unemployed people in Spain, those less qualified find it more difficult to get a job, even though they are willing to accept any kind of post. On the other hand, experienced and qualified unemployed people are currently not willing to accept a job in a lower occupational category. Meanwhile, jobs are becoming scarcer and the numbers unemployed continue to grow. By the end of 2008, Spain had an unemployment rate of almost 14%.

In February 2009, the human resources company Adecco published a press release (in Spanish, 38Kb PDF) on the job profiles currently being accepted by unemployed people in Spain. The information is based on official statistics and Adecco’s own business data; the main findings of the research are outlined below.

Few jobs for those with no qualifications

Long-term unemployment in Spain increased by 56% in 2008 and more than 685,000 persons have been unemployed for more than one year. With over 100,000 people losing their jobs each month and an unemployment rate of 13.9% at the end of 2008, competition for a job is rapidly increasing, while a dwindling number of jobs are on offer. In this context, those less qualified are suffering the most from the recession, being also the first ones to be affected by redundancy.

As a consequence, people with lower qualifications do not hesitate to accept any kind of job, as it is difficult for them to contribute any distinguishing trait or feature when competing for a specific post. They are putting aside their professional objectives and agreeing to jobs that are not related to their previous work experience. Hence, posts with low and medium qualification requirements are those where rivalry is more intense and where everyone is competing against everyone else.

On the other hand, experienced and qualified unemployed people do not currently seem eager to accept posts in a lower occupational category. So far, even if they have no job, they are still waiting to find a post matching their career expectations. However, it should be noted that these workers are ready to accept lower wages, whereas previously they used to argue for higher salary ranges.

Problems of being overqualified

Companies now have a higher number of people to choose from if they need to fill a post. However, finding the most suitable person for a specific job does not necessarily mean hiring the most qualified person. In fact, managers know that overqualified workers will leave their post as soon as they find a more appropriate job suited to their experience and qualifications.

Furthermore, workers themselves are aware that accepting a job with requirements below their experience and qualification levels could end in frustration, which would affect work performance and their private life.

However, and as a consequence of the economic crisis affecting the labour market, employees are more frequently temporarily accepting work in a lower occupational category, provided that they can enjoy future professional development and advance in their career in the long run. At the moment, this trend is common among fresh university graduates or long-term unemployed people and it is likely to be reinforced in the future if the economic crisis continues for long.


The tough economic conditions of the current global crisis are having a clear influence on the Spanish labour market. The Adecco research has shown that less qualified unemployed people have the greatest difficulties in accessing new job opportunities and seem to have no choice but to accept any type of work. In contrast, unemployed people who are highly qualified or with long work experience are not currently ready to accept any kind of job. Nevertheless, this situation may change in the future if the economic climate continues to deteriorate.

Iñigo Isusi and Jessica Duran, IKEI

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