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THE ROMA POPULATION AND EMPLOYMENT

The employment situation of the Roma population has been particularly severely affected by the financial crisis, which has worsened a situation already characterised by low labour market inclusion, low numbers in work, a high unemployment rate, great job insecurity and weak employment protection. Some of the most relevant findings emerging from our latest Comparative study on the situation of the Roma population in Spain in terms of employment and poverty (2018 data). 

The financial crisis has had a great impact on the employment and socioeconomic situation of the Roma population. The series of studies conducted in 2005, 2011 and 2018 demonstrates that the 2005 employment indicators, which already showed a clear inequality at that time, now indicate an even worse situation, with the gap between the Roma population and the general population growing ever wider. We are still a long way from seeing a return to the situation that existed before the crisis.

The percentage in work among the Roma population is 30%, which is 20% lower than for the total population, with a striking imbalance between men and women. While 44% of Roma men are in the labour market, the presence of women in the market stands at just 17%, a fact largely due to the family responsibilities which fall almost exclusively upon women.

The unemployment rate stands at 52%, more than three times the rate found in the general population (14.5%). Once again, the gender difference inssignificant, with an unemployment rate for women of 60%, and the gap between this and the male unemployment rate (47%, 13 points) being noticeably wider than the gap between women and men in the general population (3.5 points wider).

The differences in the overall economic activity rate between the Roma population and the general population are not significant. 56% of Roma people are either in work or unemployed, as was seen in previous studies. However, when we look at activity rate by gender we find highly significant differences. For example, the activity rate for Roma women is 38% while the rate for men is 76%, due to the fact that many women devote their time to domestic work and family responsibilities. This is a difference of 38 percentage points in the Roma population, when there is only an 11-percentage-point gender difference in the general population. At the same time, these high activity rates among Roma males are due to the low number of students(young Roma men work or are unemployed, while young non-Roma men are normally in education) and also the low number of retired people among the Roma.

There are also great differences in the composition of the working population. Among Roma people, only 53% of those in work are salaried workers (compared with more than 80% of the general population), while self-employed people represent 47% (compared with less than 20% of the general population).

This high rate of self-employment is due to the prevalence of market-selling and streetselling, which continue to be the main forms of work for Roma people, with more than a third of working Roma people, mostly men, being involved in these activities. Roma women are also 22 involved in these forms of work, but women in this situation are generally not considered to be doing a job, as their work is considered to be part of their domestic duties or family responsibilities. For this reason they suffer from a greater lack of protection than men.

Little work and conditions of job insecurity. The large amount of freelance work and the low quality of salaried work, with rates of temporary work standing at 70% and 16% of paid workers not having a contract, together paint a picture of weak employment protection and ensuing difficulty in accessing unemployment benefits and retirement pensions, with pensions being mainly non-contributory.

Itis worth highlighting that 19.3% of Roma people at risk of poverty are in the labour market and have a job, and can therefore can be considered to belong to the category of the working poor.

The lack of qualifications among the great majority of Roma people entering the labour market explains the fact that they are concentrated in sectors with inferior employment protection and lower rates of pay. Since 2005, the number of unemployed people has increased. The crisis has disproportionately affected people with lower levels of education, trapping them in the ranks of the unemployed. In this way, more than 70% of unemployed Roma people have found themselves in a situation of long-term unemployment (more than one year) while 35% are in a situation of very long-term unemployment (more than four years).

63% of young Roma people aged 16 to 29 are neither in work nor in education. In the general population this percentage has decreased to 15% from the high figures seen during the worst years of the crisis.
Comparison of the Roma population and the general population
Comparison of the Roma population and the general population