The number of civil servants and public employees has grown strongly in recent years in Spain until reaching its highest level in the first quarter of 2021 and the Covid has been decisive in this escalation. Public Administration employees now account for 21.1% of the total employed population, which means that one in five workers corresponds to the public sphere. According to data from the latest Labor Force Survey (EPA), at the end of March there were about 3.4 million public wage earners, the highest recorded figure, even exceeding the 3.3 million achieved under the second term of Zapatero, at the end of 2011.

Around 100,000 of them entered the public payroll last year, in the midst of a pandemic, according to the EPA. Most of these hires took place in the autonomous administrations, in which the staff grew by no less than 9.34% and was especially notorious in education and health, in which contracts soared as a desperate response to the health crisis. However, an increase could also be observed among the personnel of social services, autonomous organizations and justice, as indicated by the Statistical Bulletin of the Personnel at the Service of Public Administrations published by the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function. This boost in the number of workers occurred especially in the regions of La Rioja, Navarra, the Basque Country and the Valencian Community, being the communities where more public contracts were signed during the year of confinement.

The state administration, for its part, only grew by 2.34% in the last year, which was distributed among the different ministries and the Cortes Generales. City councils and councils also grew 1.42% in the last year.

Very different is the panorama that the Covid left in the private sector, whose effects have been disastrous, since it caused the destruction of 605,000 jobs, without counting the 420,000 workers who are in ERTE.

This growth in public employment follows a path parallel to the arrival of Pedro Sánchez to La Moncloa in June 2018. Until then and as a consequence of the 2008 economic recession, the number of staff in charge of the Administrations was significantly reduced. Were the years when Mariano Rajoy, as president, and Cristbal Montoro in command of the Budgets carried out a series of measures to control spending, among which was to reduce public staff to a minimum, below three million. With the return of socialism came the largest offer of public employment and in total there were 246,900 personnel who joined the public staff in the last three years.

However, this increase in public employment is due to a greater hiring of interns than career civil servants, something that, when temporary employment is pointed out as one of the greatest evils of the Spanish labor market, points directly to the door of the administrations. In other words, the public sector has been occupying positions with temporary contracts for years instead of filling them with personnel who have obtained their position through the corresponding selection process. According to the EPA, during the first months of the year, there were 1,033,700 salaried people with a temporary contract in public administrations, 140,900 more compared to the same period last year, the highest figure since there are records. The problem is not that the number of interns has grown, but the weight they occupy with respect to the total workforce, which today is 27.5%.

This is how the temporary nature of work in the Administration comes to produce seasonal effects on employment as powerful as those generated by the first national industry, tourism, or activities that cannot be dissociated from very marked periods of work, such as agricultural campaigns. . Among the most outstanding cases is education, with hundreds of thousands of withdrawals in June and a wave of registrations in the months of the beginning of the course, in September and October. Long ago working in the Administration stopped being synonymous with job stability. In fact, while in the private sector the temporary employment rate is 23.2%, in the public sector it is close to 30%, the highest in Europe, according to the latest Eurostat statistics on employment. Young people are the most affected and those who have the most difficulties in opting for a permanent contract, in such a way that 58% of those who currently have a job, it has an expiration date. It is another of the endemic evils of the Administration. The lack of young staff has led to aging workforces, in which the average age is 51, which means that half of the workforce will retire in a decade. It is paradoxical that organizations such as Social Security, who manage this countdown day by day and who have anticipated its consequences for a long time, are among the most affected. In this administration, the number of civil servants has fallen by around 30% in the last decade and half of the 22,000 workers that its workforce is over 45 years of age, with which a wave of retirements is expected. The lack of human resources, for example, led the Treasury to hire temporary staff through the public company Swallow to assist in the processing of the Minimum Living Income (IMV). This type of “patching” is what has led the unions to call a strike in the organization last Friday.

The public sectors in which temporary employment is especially high and which has been aggravated by the health crisis are the two main pillars of our welfare state: health and education. The Independent Trade Union Center and of Officials (CSIF), the most representative union in public administrations warns that during 2020 a historic figure has been reached in the hiring of teachers and health personnel, as reinforcements to face the Covid-19 epidemic. And in this regard, it has been the autonomous communities, which by having transferred the competences in these matters, have increased their workforce by 92,000 public workers. Furthermore, the autonomous administrations are the ones that concentrate the majority of the employees, representing 57% of all the public sector workers in Spain; the local ones, which include town halls, councils, councils and island councils, account for 20%; and with only 18% of the total, the Central Administration and Security.

Andalusian It is the autonomous community with the most civil servants in absolute terms, but it is not the region in which public employees have more weight with respect to its employed population, quite the opposite. Despite its more than three million inhabitants, the Administration’s employees barely reach 20%. On the other hand, and without counting the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, The communities with the highest representation in public employment are Castilla y Len, Extremadura and Asturias with more than 23%. CataloniaFor its part, it is the territory in which civil servants do not have too much weight among their workers, they only represent 13.7% of the total; and in the case of Madrid the figure is not too representative either, it is close to 17%.

The growth of public employment brings with it a significant increase in spending on the payment of salaries to public administration employees. In 2020 this figure exceeds 140,000 million euros, which represents 12.5% ​​of the Spanish GDP, and which represents an increase of 33% compared to 2008, when the last crisis broke out. Which shows that the path followed by public employment is different from the economic reality of our country. Since 2018, the salaries of civil servants and public employees have experienced a progressive increase in their payroll, which began with an increase of 1.75% that same year and 0.9% in the current year. But it was in the year of the pandemic that the highest rise since 2008 occurred, at 2.5%. During the first government of Mariano Rajoy (2011-2015) public salaries were frozen and the payroll was 14,677 euros per year, 10% less than today, where the average annual salary is 16,071 euros, according to the figures published by the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function. As a consequence of the measures taken by Rajoy, CSIF assures that “public employees lost between 12.9 and 17.9% of their purchasing power.”

In comparison with the rest of the countries of Europe, taking the statistics of the World Bank with data from 2018, Spain is within the average in terms of salary expenditure, below Norway, Iceland, Denmark or the countries of the east such as Rumana or Estonia; and is ahead of Portugal, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. On the other hand, the situation changes if the data on the average annual remuneration of public administrations are taken as a reference. In this case, Spain is below the European average, occupying position number 20, only ahead of France, Poland or Hungary, according to Eurostat.


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