Manuela Teijeiro ha logrado vencer los peores augurios. En marzo de 2020, con 54 años, el virus la mandó al paro después de tres décadas en los fogones de restaurantes gallegos. Se vio en casa, hundida, mientras por la ventana de la televisión observaba horrorizada cómo el sector de la hostelería que le había dado empleo toda la vida también se venía abajo. Pasado el confinamiento la llamaron de un par de locales, para trabajar 15 horas al día por menos sueldo que nunca. “Y me dije: ‘Si llevo 30 años levantando los negocios de los demás, malo será que no consiga levantar el mío”, recuerda desde La cocina de Manuela, el establecimiento de comida casera para llevar que ha abierto en A Coruña.Récord de mujeres afiliadas a la Seguridad Social, pero temporales y con bajos salarios Récord de mujeres afiliadas a la Seguridad Social, pero temporales y con bajos salarios

Like her, María García, 41, from Malaga, has also just rejoined the labor market. “I see that this is picking up. I also perceive it in the customers and in their attitude”, says this woman who has been working as a waitress in a restaurant in Seville since July. Those of Teijeiro and García are just two cases that show the constant trickle of women who have rejoined the labor market in recent months.

In the last two months, the number of Spanish women employed or in an ERTE regime has exceeded nine million, a level not seen since before the pandemic, at the end of 2019. This evolution, experts point out, could continue if the labor market it is not shaken by new restrictions. Female affiliation to Social Security reached its record in June: 9,076,939. Last month it fell slightly, to around 3,000, according to data released Tuesday by the Ministry of Social Security. The abundance of female labor in service positions and those facing the public, sectors that are benefiting from the de-escalation and the high season of tourism, explains this explosion of female employment that was already noticed in some months of 2020, but that has taken shape throughout this year.

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Javier Blasco, director of the consultancy Adecco Group Institute, summarizes: "What is happening this summer is that the women's sectors absorb more employment." After the end of the state of alarm and the arrival of summer, there has been a strong activation of two markets with a high percentage of female workers: commerce and the hospitality industry. To this is added that education has continued to function despite the pandemic and health has expanded staff, two sectors also mostly female.

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Récord de mujeres afiliadas a la Seguridad Social, pero temporales y con bajos salarios

The question is whether these occupancy figures can be maintained in autumn. Blasco is optimistic. "The vaccination objectives should keep the hotel industry activated, which would also allow part of the temporary jobs in that sector and in commerce to become permanent." In addition, the return of the school year always triggers recruitment in education. Along the same lines, Valentín Bote, director of the labor consultancy Randstad Research, points out: “In 2019, a record high for female employment was reached, which frustrated the crisis. And as we recover, that growth trend returns, which we will continue to see in the coming months.”

High temporality in hospitality and commerce

Despite the boom, inequality between men and women in the labor market remains intact. Two of these wounds are due to the difference in salaries and the greater temporality of female employment. The higher salaries among men are explained, among other reasons, by the better remuneration in the sectors where they are the majority. If in the manufacturing industry the average earnings per worker in 2019 were 27,600 euros, this rises to 44,300 in financial services and exceeds 52,000 in electricity and gas supply trades, mostly male jobs; while education and health are around 26,000 euros per year and the hotel industry sinks to 14,500, according to the INE's annual salary structure survey. Regarding the rate of temporary contracts, this rises to 27.7% for women compared to 22.6% for men, according to data from the latest Active Population Survey.

In June and July, female affiliation grew by 5.2% and 4.8%, respectively, compared to the same months in 2020, a higher percentage than among men. However, the gap between the sexes remains practically intact, since jobs that are mostly male have recovered in previous months: if in July 2019 women represented 46.1% of those employed in Spain, in July 2021 they represented 46. ,3%. Looking back, there are no major changes either: a decade ago, in July 2011, women represented 45.1% of Social Security affiliates.

Javier Blasco highlights this gap in labor market participation and calls for "more aggressive" active employment policies that allow reconversion to facilitate the change of profession for those who cannot find work. "If industry, construction and technology remain in the hands of men, it is difficult for women to increase their participation in the labor market," explains Blasco, who recalls that these sectors have much higher pay than jobs in services .

The leap to create his own business was not easy for Teijeiro. Despite the good reception of her place, she emotionally remembers the stresses she had to overcome to get it running. As he watched the virus spread total uncertainty across the planet, he set out to navigate a sea of ​​difficulties. "There is no help to set up a business, only drawbacks," he complains. He did not receive any subsidy and is waiting for a call from the Xunta for self-employed people over 50 years of age that "has been delayed by the pandemic." “I have two children and a mortgage and I have been in the red by investing all my savings in this,” he explains. “It has been a risk and I have had a bad time. I have spent many sleepless nights, my hair has fallen out and I even had vertigo”.

More unemployment and more ERTE

Despite the fact that women are a minority in the labor market, they represented 60% of the unemployed in Spain in July: two million compared to 1.4 million for men. They also accounted for 52% of the 331,486 employees in ERTE, a figure that experts once again attribute to the overrepresentation of women in jobs heavily affected by the pandemic. Catering and accommodation concentrate 4 out of 10 workers in temporary employment regulation files. Bote concludes: "In the hotel industry the presence of women is greater, while that of men is greater in sectors that have already recovered from the ERTE".

Teijeiro is convinced that so many years in the sacrificed hospitality industry made her hardened to resist. In La cocina de Manuela she puts in endless hours, but she receives congratulations from her for her skill in the kitchen that she never obtained after those in restaurants. Clients confess that they remember their mothers and grandmothers when they savor her recipes. And there are those who also tell him that they have had “a couple of eggs” to open a place in a pandemic: “I answer that what you have to have are needs. I want to teach my children."

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