Spanish culture of temporary employment: how 100.000 jobs are created and destroyed every day

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: elDiario.es

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 27/11/2021

Credit: Raúl Sánchez, Laura Olías


Raúl Sánchez:  Spanish data and investigative journalist covering stories of inequality, gender, corruption and (now) Covid at elDiario.es. He coordinates elDiario.es data team.

Laura Olías: Spanish journalist specialized in labour market, inequality, social security issues and employment statistics at elDiario.es.

Project description:

An investigation by elDiario.es from the daily employment data from 2006 to 2021 in Spain discovered that 100,000 jobs are created and destroyed every day and proves the culture of temporary employment in the Spanish labor market. This project was based on unpublished data obtained through the transparency law and reveals the frenetic creation and destruction of employment in Spain, Europe’s leader in temporary contracts.

Impact reached:

This project collected for the first time unpublished data on daily Social Security affiliations each day from 2006 to 2021. The data, revealed by elDiario.es, show the levels of uncertainty in the labor market in which many contracts do not survive the night and how companies save millions of euros in contributions to Social Security by firing people before holidays or weekends.
The article was shared by dozens of economists and representatives of the social agents just when the Government’s labor reform was being negotiated. This legislative change has precisely promoted several measures to curb the levels of temporary employment in the Spanish labor market. In addition, this project was one of the most read of the year in elDiario.es and also one that made most people subscribe and pay for elDiario.es during the year, according to our statistics. 

Techniques/technologies used:

R, Rstudio and Excel for data compiling and data analysis. D3.js and Javascript for data visualization.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of the project was obtaining the daily employment data, not published until now by the Spanish Government. Data for the period between 2006 and 2013 were obtained through a request for information covered by the Transparency Law in Spain. To obtain data from 2013 onwards, we scrapped the data tables published in more than 100 PDF of monthly employment reports sent by the Ministry of Labor.
We cleaned, corrected and analyzed the data to reveal the nature of the phenomenon of temporary hiring in Spain: we hire on Monday and at the beginning of the month and dismiss on Friday, at the end of the month or just before a public holiday (to save social contributions of the Holiday). Also, we revealed how the employment creation in Spain is correlated with a similar level of job destruction.

What can others learn from this project?

This project can inspire other journalists around the world to request this daily employment data and analyze the temporal patterns of hiring in the country, or any kind of historical data that is not being published or only published in PDF reports. Are the trends of Spain repeated in other countries? Are people also hired on Monday and dismissed on Sunday? This one can be a transnational investigation to analyze the seasonal effects of day-to-day employment and prove if there is a pattern that could link the labor laws of each country with the creation and destruction of employment.

Project links: