Foreigners are driving the growth of self-employment in Spain, by choosing to establish their businesses in the country to secure a source of income.
According to recent data published by the Ministry of Social Security, in the last twelve months until April, 24,037 foreigners registered as self-employed with the Social Security department, while the number of Spanish nationals affiliated as self-employed decreased by 21,479.
Overall, the country has seen a net increase of 2,558 self-employed individuals in the past year. However, this figure masks a significant decline in businesses owned by Spaniards and a notable increase in foreign-owned businesses.
Currently, there are a total of 3,335,194 self-employed individuals registered with Social Security in Spain, representing a 0.08% increase compared to April 2022. The number of foreigners registered as self-employed has risen from 393,238 to 417,335, a 6.1% increase.
The rise in the number of foreign individuals registering as self-employed is not due to difficulties in entering the job market as employees. In fact, the number of foreign wage earners in Spain has grown by 227,566 in the past year, reaching a total of 2.18 million people.
When considering all types of workers, including wage earners, self-employed individuals, agricultural workers, and those in the sea, coal, and household sectors, the number of foreigners employed in Spain amounts to 2.6 million. Among this population, 55.6% are men, while 44.4% are women. However, the gender gap is more pronounced among self-employed individuals, where only 38% are women.
In the last twelve months, Spain has created a total of 595,908 jobs, with 252,169 of those being filled by foreigners.
The self-employed community in Spain is comprised of nearly half a million foreign individuals, of which only 40% come from European Union (EU) countries. The remaining 60% are from outside the EU. The Chinese community stands out as the most entrepreneurial, with 62,510 self-employed individuals of Chinese nationality, compared to 49,435 salaried workers from China. They are followed by Romanians (46,162), Italians (37,224), Moroccans (27,713), and British (26,760).
Considering all foreign workers, including self-employed individuals, wage earners, and others, the largest community in Spain is made up of Romanians (344,492), followed by Moroccans (329,227), Italians (170,487), Colombians (146,952), and Venezuelans (133,782). The latter two groups, along with Ukrainian refugees, have experienced the highest increase in the past year. There are currently 63,507 Ukrainians working in Spain, with 7,384 of them registered as self-employed.
The distribution of foreign workers across the Iberian Peninsula is not uniform, as immigrants tend to gravitate towards regions with more dynamic employment opportunities. Catalonia has the highest number of foreign self-employed individuals (91,425), followed by the Community of Madrid (68,671), the Valencian Community (61,586), and Andalusia (58,047). These four communities account for 68.35% of the country's foreign workers.
In terms of provinces, Barcelona has the highest number of foreign self-employed individuals (69,645), along with Madrid (68,671). At a considerable distance, Alicante (29,357), Malaga (29,057), and Valencia (26,279) also have a significant presence of foreign self-employed individuals.
Within the self-employed sector, 22.5% operate in the hospitality industry, which is the most thriving sector within self-employment. Additionally, 20.6% provide services to employer households, 17.2% are engaged in administrative activities and auxiliary services, 17% work in the real estate sector, and 16.5% are involved in information and communications.
Over the past year, certain sectors have witnessed significant growth in the number of foreign self-employed individuals. The supply of electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning sector has seen a 15.4% increase in self-employed affiliates. The information and communications sector follows closely with a 13.4% growth, while professional, scientific, and technical activities have experienced a 10.3% increase.
Conversely, extractive industries have observed a 16.5% decrease in foreign self-employed individuals compared to a year ago. The number of self-employed engaged in household activities has fallen by 15%, and there is a 7.6% decline in self-employed workers in the public administration, defense, and mandatory social security sectors.
The entrepreneurial landscape in Spain has seen a notable shift with foreigners playing a crucial role in the growth of self-employment. While Spanish nationals have experienced a decline in self-employed businesses, the number of foreigners registering as self-employed has increased. This trend reflects the diversity and contribution of the foreign workforce in Spain's economic landscape.
Image Credit: Seguridad Social/El Mundo