Temping Fates in Spain: Hours and Employment in a Dual Labor Market during the Great Recession and Covid-19

Abstract

We investigate the behavior of aggregate hours supplied by workers in permanent (open- ended) contracts and temporary contracts, distinguishing changes in employment (extensive margin) and hours per worker (intensive margin). We focus on the differences between the Great Recession and the start of the Covid-19 Recession. In the Great Recession, the hours loss is largely accounted for by employment losses (hours per worker did not adjust) and initially mainly by workers in temporary contracts. In contrast, in the early stages of the Covid-19 Recession, approximately sixty percent of the drop in aggregate hours is accounted for by permanent workers that do not only adjust hours per worker (beyond average) but also face employment losses—accounting for one third of the total economy employment losses. We argue that this comparison allows for a more general discussion on the impact of adjustment frictions in the dual labor market and the effects the short-time work policy (ERTEs) in Spain.