Spain's Economy Is Expanding, But Most New Jobs Are Temporary : Parallels For a generation of young Spaniards, temporary employment has become the new normal. As voters head to the polls on Sunday, many are wondering if that should really count as recovery.
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Spain's Economy Is Expanding, But Most New Jobs Are Temporary

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Spain's Economy Is Expanding, But Most New Jobs Are Temporary

Spain's Economy Is Expanding, But Most New Jobs Are Temporary

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/459854096/460234697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Spain this weekend, voters are going to the polls in national elections. Unemployment in that country is at 21 percent. But the economy has been improving, and so reporter Lauren Frayer got back in touch with some young Spaniards she met at the height of the crisis to see how they're faring now.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: I first met Laura Silva and her husband, Ricardo Robleno, two summers ago. They hosted me in their home for an interview about how they - like more than half of Spanish 20-somethings - were out of work. Now nearly two years have passed. Spain is out of recession, Laura and Ricky have turn 30, and they can afford to meet me over tapas this time. They finally have jobs, albeit temporary ones.

LAURA SILVA: I don't really have a contract. It's an internship. So that means I have no rights. I lose this job, I get no unemployment.

FRAYER: Even though her native English is coveted - Laura's mom is American - she still can't find a permanent job as an English teacher. Her husband, Ricky, also rejoined the labor market as a temp, doing personal training at a gym.

RICARDO ROBLENO: I woke up at 6 a.m., arrived home at 10 p.m. But the salary was not very high - less than 1,000 euros - and I was working at two places at a time

SILVA: In order to work at his job, they only hire people with a degree and a Master's.

FRAYER: At a gym?

ROBLENO: Yeah.

FRAYER: Long hours for a salary of less than $1,100 a month. This is what economic recovery looks like here in Spain. When Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy boasts he's added more than 1 million new jobs, it's people like Laura and Ricky he's talking about. But 95 percent of all new jobs in Spain are temp jobs.

SILVA: Sometimes it's a nine-month contract, or sometimes it's a permanent contract but with nine months of probation, so they fire you on the very last day. And that's happened to me too.

FRAYER: That allows employers to avoid paying severance and other benefits. Spain's economy is technically out of recession, but nearly 70 percent of respondents in a recent national poll describe the economic situation as bad or very bad. Laura and Ricky say they still feel like members of a lost generation.

SILVA: Where we are in life compared to maybe other societies, other countries or other generations - we are, like, maybe eight years behind. Honestly, we have never had the opportunity to spend money because we became young adults when the crisis happened. That might be part of our personality and our character forever.

FRAYER: Young professionals like these still living like interns into their 30s are turning to new political parties which are challenging Spain's old two-party system. But many older Spaniards will still vote as they always have. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid.

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