The Spanish Economy from my limited perspective..

We are now headed in to our third year here in Barcelona, and people often ask, how are things.. economically speaking.  While I am so far from understanding the economics or the governmental aspects of Spain, I can tell you what I see as I walk the dogs.

Last year I saw a lot of organized “strikes” in the street.  People with whistles, holding signs and banging pots and pans.  I met people in the park.. doctors, economists, well educated people who were and still are trying to get out of Spain because they have no jobs and/or aren’t being paid for their jobs.  One woman, a doctor, eventually made her way to the Canary Islands with her golden retriver.. another man I know is trying to move to the US.  He speaks fluent English, has written numerous books, has a radio show and articles in the newspaper and teaches at the University, but has yet to be paid.

The shops, from year to year, close.  There are more for sale signs each year.. or going out of business signs.  And just today I read and had heard, that many pharmacists are likely going to have to close their stores because social security isn’t paying the pharmacies for the prescriptions they’ve been filling!  Here’s a link about it! … Then you have laws here about hiring.  If you lay someone off, you pay 45 days of indemnization for each year that the employee worked for you.   Firing is slightly different if you have “sufficient” cause.  Sufficient is the key word here though.. and I don’t know what it covers..

Employees can only work a 40-hour work week and they get 23 days of vacation for each full year worked.  And somewhere I heard that someone can take a leave of absence after being at the company a year, and can take it from 4 months up to 5 years and still be guaranteed their job back!  And companies have to pay to 32% of the gross paycheck to social security!

So with that said, in a country where the economy is suffering, many businesses can’t afford to lay off their employees to keep the business running so they are simply closing OR they aren’t paying their employees!  And the employees keep working for “free” in hopes that someday they will get paid.  And if they quit, they lose access to the money they would otherwise have gotten if they were laid off.  It’s terribly sad.   According to this website, the unemployment rate for all people in Spain is at 26%.  The unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 is 57% as shown here! … Many people are being paid under the table because companies can’t afford to hire an employee… and many are sitting on street corners asking for money… it’s heart breaking… Here’s another link to yet another story

The one positive thing I will say, is that while things are dreary for the economy in Spain, the people continue to be heartwarmingly lovely…


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