The asymmetrical impact of the covid-19 crisis on the European labour market

Cesira Urzi Brancati, Songül Tolan, Enrique Fernández-Macías, Ignacio González Vázquez, Marta Fana and Sergio Torrejón Pérez, European Commission’s Joint Research Centre

The impact that the coronavirus crisis is having on employment is clearly unequal, both among countries and based on worker characteristics. Lockdown measures and the restrictions imposed on activity have jeopardised employment more in some Mediterranean countries (such as Spain). As for workers, it is those with lower salaries, or in precarious forms of employment, as well as young people and women who are included among the people most affected.
Key points
  • 1
       The impact that the covid-19 crisis is having on the labour market is stronger in some Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, as they are countries with a greater proportion of jobs in sectors whose activity has been more negatively affected by the lockdown measures (hotel and catering, leisure and personal services such as, for example, hair salons and dry cleaners.
  • 2
       The impact of the crisis is concentrated on some of the most vulnerable groups in the labour market: workers with low salaries and in precarious jobs, as well as women and young workers.
  • 3
       The crisis has extended the use of teleworking on a major scale, to nearly all those jobs and sectors that allow it.Some of the countries most affected by the crisis (including Spain and Italy) had, prior to it, a comparatively low level of teleworking.
Spain: among those countries with a higher percentage of jobs suspended due to the covid-19 crisis
Spain: among those countries with a higher percentage of jobs suspended due to the covid-19 crisis

Spain and Italy are among the countries most affected by the covid-19 crisis. This is due to these countries having a higher proportion of jobs in sectors that have been forced to close due to lockdown measures: activities related with leisure and wellbeing, tourism, personal services, etc. These sectors total up to 14.2% of total employment in Spain, against the 9.9% average in the block formed by the EU and the United Kingdom. In contrast, the Member States of the centre and north of the EU have a higher proportion of sectors that remain active (whose activity has not been suspended) despite the crisis, because they are essential or allow teleworking, therefore the impact of lockdown on employment is smaller.

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Cesira Urzi Brancati, Songül Tolan, Enrique Fernández-Macías, Ignacio González Vázquez, Marta Fana and Sergio Torrejón Pérez , European Commission’s Joint Research Centre

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