26 January 2024

Economically Active Population Survey

Fourth quarter 2023

Main results

  • The number of employees decreased by 19,000 persons compared with the previous quarter to 21,246,900. In seasonally adjusted terms, the quarterly rate was 0.60%. Employment has increased by 783,000 persons in the last 12 months.
  • Unemployment decreased by 24,600 persons to 2,830,600. In seasonally adjusted terms, it decreased by 1.20%. In the last 12 months it decreased by 193,400 persons.
  • This quarters, the unemployment rate was 11.76%, eight hundredths lower than in the previous quarter.
  • The number of economically active persons decreased by 43,600 to 24,077,400. Over the last year, it has increased by 589,600 persons.

The number of employees decreased by 19,000 persons in the fourth quarter of 2023, standing at 21,246,900. The quarterly variation rate was -0.09%.

Variation of employment in the fourth quarter compared with the third of the same year. Fourth quarter 2023

By gender, employment decreased by 64,200 for men and increased by 45,200 for women this quarter. By nationality, it decreased by 44,500 for Spaniards, including dual nationality, and increased by 25,500 for foreigners.

By sector, employment increased in Agriculture (68,800 more), Construction (30,700) and Industry (4,900). And it decreased in Services (123,400 less).

Full-time employment decreased by 211,100 persons. Part-time employment increased by 192,100. On the other hand, the number of employees decreased by 84,200, those on permanent contracts increased by 68,300 and those on temporary contracts decreased by 152,500. The number of self-employed persons increased by 69,100 persons.

This quarter, private employment decreased by 77,600 persons, standing at 17,653,600. Public employment increased by 58,600, standing at 3,593,300.

In the past 12 months, employment increased by 783,000 persons or 3.83% (with increases of 345,800 for men and 437,200 for women). By sector, the largest increase was in Services (629,200 more persons employed).

In the past 12 months, full-time employment increased by 695,400 persons and part-time employment by 87,600. On the other hand, permanent employment increased by 804,200 persons, while temporary employment decreased by 140,300.

Unemployment and unemployment rate

This quarter, the number of unemployed decreased by 24,600 persons to 2,830,600. The quarterly variation in unemployment was -0.86%.

Variation of unemployment in the fourth quarter compared with the third of the same year. Fourth quarter 2023

The unemployment rate decreased by eight hundredths and stood at 11.76%.

By gender, the number of unemployed men remained almost unchanged (-1,200) during the quarter, while the number of unemployed women decreased by 23,400. The female unemployment rate decreased by 23 hundredths to 13.36% and the male unemployment rate increased by four hundredths to 10.30%.

By nationality, unemployment decreased by 70,900 among Spaniards, including dual nationality, while it increased by 46,300 among foreigners.

This quarter, unemployment increased in Services (29,000) and in Construction (6,800). And it decreased in Industry (-28,000) and Agriculture (-24,000).

Unemployment increased by 21,000 persons among those who lost their job over a year ago and decreased by 29,500 among those who are seeking their first job.

In the past 12 months, the total number of unemployed decreased by 193,400 persons (100,400 men and 93,000 women). The annual variation was -6.40%.

By sector, unemployment decreased last year in Industry (-29,900), Agriculture (-21,300) and Construction (-19,100). And it increased in Services (4,100). On the other hand, the number of unemployed persons who lost their jobs over a year ago decreased by 108,100 and that of unemployed persons looking for their first job by 19,000.

Economically active population and activity rate

The economically active population decreased by 43,600 persons in the fourth quarter, standing at 24,077,400. The number of economically active women increased by 21,700 and that of men decreased by 65,400.

By nationality, the number of economically active persons decreased in the last quarter by 115,500 among Spaniards and increased by 71,900 among foreigners.

The economic activity rate decreased by 42 hundredths, reaching 58.99%. The Spaniards rate decreased by 47 hundredths to 57.43% and that of foreigners by 31 hundredths to 69.51%. The different age structure is the main reason for the difference between the two.

In annual terms, the economically active population increased by 589,600 persons. The annual variation rate was 2.51%.


Households with all economically active members unemployed increased by 3,600 to 932,400. On the other hand, households with all economically active members employed increased by 76,400 to 11,654,700.

In the last 12 months, the number of households with at least one economically active member in which those members were unemployed decreased by 115,100, while those where all active members were employed increased by 399,400.

Results by autonomous communities and provincial data

The largest increase in employment this quarter was recorded in Comunidad de Madrid (67,600 more). And the largest decrease in Illes Balears (-94,400).

In relative terms, the largest quarterly increase was recorded in País Vasco (2.28%).

In terms of unemployment, the largest decrease was recorded in Andalucía (-50,900). And the largest increase in Illes Balears (33,600 more).

País Vasco (6.33%) recorded the lowest unemployment rate this quarter. Andalucía (17.60%), the highest.

At the provincial level, a summary of the results can be found in this document and all the information is available via this link.

Seasonally adjusted series

The quarterly employment variation rate adjusted for seasonal effects was 0.60%.

Quarterly variation rate of seasonally adjusted employment. Fourth quarter 2023

As for the seasonally adjusted unemployment results, a decrease of 1.20% was observed.

Quarterly variation rate of seasonally adjusted unemployment. Fourth quarter 2023

The seasonally adjusted model and the employment and unemployment series can be found at this link.

Data reviews and updates

The data published today are final. All results of this operation are available on INEBase.

New developments in upcoming press release

The data for the first quarter of 2024 of the LFS, to be published on 26 April, will be calculated using the new population base, which will include updated information from the 2021 population and housing censuses.

Homogeneous back series calculated with the new population base for the period 2021-2023 will be made available on 19 April.

Methodological note

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) has been carried out since 1964. Its current methodology from 2021 onwards adapts the previous methodology to the new European Labour Force Survey regulations.

It is a continuous, quarterly research activity addressed to families, whose main purpose is to obtain data on the labour force and its various categories (employed, unemployed), as well as on the population outside the labour market (inactive).

As of the third quarter of 2009, the survey includes an additional sample in Galicia that is collected by the Galician Statistics Institute (IGE) using the same fieldwork system and methodology as the INE.

Type of survey:
quarterly continuous survey.
Population scope:
population residing in family homes.
Geographical scope:
the entire national territory.
Reference period of the results:
the quarter.
Reference period of the information:
the week before the interview.
Sample size:
in 2021, the number of census tracts was 3822, of which 234 were the additional sample from Galicia. With the change in the arrangement of sections, this number has increased gradually and will reach a total of 5,298 in 2024, of which 288 will be the additional sample from Galicia.
The number of homes selected per section will go from an average of 20 to 14. Currently there are around 55,000 dwellings and 130,000 people.
Type of sampling:
two-stage stratification in the first stage units, i.e. census tracts. The second-stage units are inhabited family dwellings.
Collection method:
personal, telephone and web interviews.

For more information, you can access the methodology and the standardized methodological report.

INE statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Good Practice for European Statistics. More information in Quality at INE and Code of Best Practices.

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