In 2005 the Spanish labor force included 20.9 million people. The largest share of the workforce—65 percent—was employed in service industries. Some 30 percent were employed in manufacturing, mining, and construction; and 5 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Since 1980 the labor force has grown rapidly, mainly due to an increase in the numbers of economically active women, who today make up over 40 percent of the labor market.
Women, like young people, are disproportionately affected by unemployment, which has been a constant problem for Spain ever since the 1970s. The rate peaked at 24 percent in 1994 and, despite falling steadily since then, is among the highest in the EU, at 11 percent. It should be noted, however, that a significant proportion of those officially recorded as jobless actually have employment of some sort in the so-called shadow economy. Both the considerable size of the shadow economy and the persistence and severity of unemployment are usually attributed to the inflexible nature of Spain’s labor market. This inflexibility, in turn, is due partly to the continuing existence of government regulations on hiring and dismissals, and partly to the reluctance of most Spaniards to move to another part of the country in search of jobs.
Compared to other European countries, Spain has relatively few workers who belong to labor unions—about 10 percent. Yet labor unions play a surprisingly prominent role in the country’s public life for reasons that are partly historical. The unions acquired considerable moral authority through their leading role in opposition to the Franco regime (1939-1975). Subsequent democratic governments have sought their cooperation by involving them in discussions and agreements on various aspects of economic policy (concertación social).
Spain was the world’s second most popular tourist destination in the early 2000s, following France. It received 55.9 million visitors in 2005. In addition, the majority of Spaniards take their vacations in Spain. The climate, beaches, and historic cities of Spain are an attraction for tourists, and tourism makes a significant contribution to the country’s economy. Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities also provide employment for many people, at least in the tourist season. The $15.1 billion tourists spent in 2005 helped make up for Spain’s considerable trade deficit. Some 90 percent of foreign tourists come from within the EU, above all from the United Kingdom and Germany. The main destinations continue to be the long sandy beaches of the mainland Mediterranean coast—notably the Costa del Sol in the south, the Costa Blanca in the southeast, and the Costa Brava in the northeast—and the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. However, Spain’s historic cities also attract significant numbers of visitors, especially the southern cities with a strong Moorish heritage, such as Granada and Córdoba. The inland rural areas, many of which are remote and rugged by European standards, have also begun to draw visitors. "Spain" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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