The labour market in Barcelona

businesses in Barcelona
Updated 2021-08-10 14:47

Barcelona is the economic, cultural and administrative heart of Catalonia, a creative, cosmopolitan and innovative city known for its quality of life. Like many other cities and towns in Spain, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the local labour market and increased unemployment. However, recovery is on the way with a change in the city's worker profile and opportunities in health, science and IT industries.

Local economy

Barcelona is Spain's second-largest city, home of its largest port, and its chief commercial and industrial centre. Important industrial sectors include shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics, appliance manufacturing and chemicals.

Tourism is also a hugely important economic pillar. Before the pandemic, Barcelona was one of the world's most visited cities, according to TripAdvisor, hosting 8.5 million travellers and more than 21 million overnight stays in 2019. As a result, the local economy is highly dependent on tourism, which looks set to recover well from the crisis.

With eyes set firmly on the future, Barcelona wants to become the European capital of science and innovation. The Barcelona Science Plan 2020-2023 aims to promote talent and the city's R&D ecosystem, which comprises research centres, universities, scientific facilities and innovative companies.

The labour market in Barcelona

The coronavirus had a severe impact on Barcelona's labour market. At the beginning of 2021, the city recorded 36.3% more unemployment than the same time the previous year. In January 2021, the figure stood at 96,227 unemployed persons. However, even amid difficulties, glimpses of a bright future full of opportunities can be seen.

According to the Chamber of Barcelona, the independent institution that promotes Barcelona's economic and business activity, the pandemic is altering the future of the labour market, accelerating changes that had been happening in previous years. Namely, Barcelona's companies are looking for new worker profiles, fewer service sector employees, and more health, science and information technology professionals.

Between 2014 and 2019, the city's tourism sector generated 20% of jobs in Catalonia (approximately 410,000). However, in 2021 the trend is reversing, and the technology sector is creating more job opportunities. In the year leading up to June 2021, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector increased employment by 19.1%, translating to 20,600 new jobs.

Sectors linked to e-Commerce are also creating plenty of new positions as more people take their shopping online. Likewise, there is more work for job profiles related to online sales, such as order pickers, packers and delivery drivers. In addition, Barcelona is the location of a large number of logistics centres.

Wages in Barcelona

According to Salary Explorer, the average salary of a person working in Barcelona as of 2021 is approximately 3,130 euros per month. The pay ranges from 960 euros per month to 13,200 euros per month. In general, professionals with more than five years of experience tend to earn 36% more than those with five years or less of work experience.

A person who lives and works in Barcelona needs a salary of at least 1,322 euros a month to make ends meet, states a report published by Area Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) in March 2021. That's because the cost of living had risen by 26% during the previous five years. The same research says that the main salary in one of every three households is below 1,322 euros.

Useful link:

Barcelona Treball: The job seeking website of Barcelona

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