As the largest country on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain has a rich history and a thriving culture. The Romans and the Muslims from North Africa influenced its origins, and this is quite visible in the nation’s architecture. Today, travelers often visit Spain for the diverse array of tapas, or small snack-like foods. However, after the country experienced a financial crisis in 2008, many families experienced economic hardship, which the COVID-19 pandemic later exacerbated in 2020. Below are five facts about how families continue to struggle with being poor in Spain today.
5 Facts About Being Poor in Spain
- Poverty and Unemployment Pre-COVID-19: In 2018, two years prior to the pandemic, 26.1% of people in Spain faced the possible risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to a report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. Additionally, the unemployment rate (13.78%) was more than double the average rate for the EU as a whole, with those under the age of 25 suffering the highest rate of unemployment.
- Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A 2022 Human Rights Watch report detailed that the economic hardships stemming from COVID-19 disproportionately affected families with children, older people, migrants, asylum-seekers and people working in informal work sectors. Additionally, the difficulties of being poor in Spain had an increased impact on single parents, who reported that they often skipped meals to feed their children during the pandemic.
- Price inflation: Between August 2021 and August 2022, price inflation in Spain skyrocketed by 10.5%, which is the highest level that records have indicated since official measurements started in 1994. Reports indicated that some foods have had between a 25% and 40% price increase.
- Homelessness on the Rise: Approximately 28,500 people experienced homelessness in Spain in 2022, a 25% increase from 2012. The average age of a person experiencing homelessness in Spain is 42.7 years old. These numbers follow a similar trend across Europe, where there has been a 70% increase in the last 10 years.
- Rising Energy Prices: Since the start of the war in Ukraine, energy prices across Spain have risen exponentially. This has caused nearly 4% of middle-class households to spend “more than half of their income on energy,” according to an article that Reuters published.
Minimum Wage Increases Sow Hope for Future Economic Improvements
In February 2023, the Spanish government approved an 8% increase to the nation’s minimum wage, bringing the total increase since 2018 to 47%. Despite the findings of a recent study commissioned by Spain’s Ministry of Labor that found that minimum wage increases caused the loss of 28,000 jobs, it determined that overall wage inequality was reduced and 1.5 million workers had improved living conditions.
In addition, Spain’s economy grew 5.5% in 2022 and the country created nearly 500,000 jobs last year. These promising statistics have given government officials hope that the Spanish economy is headed in the right direction.
– Tristan Weisenbach