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Covid-19 and the 2020 furloughs: from the health pandemic to the jobs pandemic

Diego Dueñas Fernández, Universidad de Alcalá; Raquel Llorente Heras, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Luis Gómez Rufián, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on the social impact of covid-19

In the course of 2020 the Spanish labour market saw an exponential increase in the number of companies and workers who entered a layoff process. In the second quarter of the year the figure exceeded three million people. In this context, the research on which this article is based analyses the demographic and career characteristics of these workers, compares these characteristics with their employment situation after the layoff process, and evaluates what characteristics determine the recovery of their usual job.
Key points
  • 1
       In the first six months of 2020 there was a 21.93% reduction in the number of effective hours worked by employees in the private sector. Although a recovery was observed in the second semester of the year, hours worked did not reach the level registered at the end of 2019.
  • 2
       In June 2020, more than 3.1 million private-sector employees had a reduction in their work schedule or a contract suspension.
  • 3
       From a demographic perspective, the workers most affected by layoff processes were those aged over 30 and with a low educational level. Although women were affected more than men in these processes, gender was not a decisive variable.
  • 4
       From an employment perspective, retail and hospitality were the hardest hit sectors, and full-time workers with a permanent contract were the most affected.
  • 5
       According to available data, layoff processes do not appear to be the gateway to unemployment, although the process of return to usual employment activity slowed down in the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • 6
       Job recovery occurred mostly in the construction industry, with temporary part-time contracts.
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