The National Institute of Statistics (INE) has put figures on the blow that the Spanish business fabric suffered during the first months of the pandemic. Between January and October 2020, 194,000 employer units were destroyed in Spain (16% of the total) and 327,000 self-employed workers were terminated (10%). According to the study Demographic situation of companies, the most affected, as previously indicated by previous studies, are micro-SMEs, young employees, and women (slightly more than men). On the positive side, the INE report shows how ERTEs served as lifesavers for thousands of companies: of the total that availed themselves of this mechanism, only 3.7% closed before June, compared to 8.3% that fell blind without subscribing to an ERTE.


The biggest blow to societies took place in just a few days. In the first quarter – mainly between March 14, when the state of alarm was declared, and the 31st of that month – 140,000 companies of the 1,190,870 that were in Spain were terminated. Once the first onslaught had passed, in the second quarter closures fell to 43,360 and the reactivation of the economy allowed 26% of the companies closed between January and March to reopen. But the third quarter arrived and the failed tourist campaign once again left a business drain: 56,000 businesses closed and only 8,900 business reactivations. As of October 1, 996,729 companies remained in Spain.

Self Employed

The year 2020 started with 2,997,941 freelancers, and again the first quarter was the hardest for them. In the second half of March, 190,080 self-employed workers were terminated. As in the case of companies, the second quarter allowed 40% of the previous losses to be recovered, but the summer arrived and the figure soared again: 102,235 closed their business and only 5,465 self-employed workers reactivated their activity. As of October 1, 2,670,000 self-employed employees remained in Spain.

The Smallest Companies, The Most Punished

The smallest companies suffered the most from the crisis. Until October, the Spanish economy lost 21.5% of its companies with between one and five employees, no less than 190,600 businesses. There is a high correlation between the number of employees and the probability of survival explains the INE in the report. In fact, the percentage of companies that managed to overcome the crisis increases as they have more employees and among those with between 100 and 250 workers, only less than 2% closed.

Young People And Women Suffered More From The Crisis

The survival rate of the economic crisis is also higher as the age of the self-employed increases and only decreases once they exceed 60 years. 20.7% of self-employed workers under 30 years of age gave up their activity between January and September, 10 points above the average survival rate for the sector. Somewhat better did those between 30 and 39 years of age (13.2% closed). On the opposite side are the self-employed between 50 and 59 years old, the group that has evolved the best in these quarters in the words of the statisticians, with a survival rate of 92%.

Between the sexes, self-employed women have been slightly more affected than men. While the survival rate for businesses run by women was 87.8% as of October 1, it was as high as 90% for men.

Andalusia Lost 33,600 Companies In Nine Months

Andalusia was the region that suffered the most, both in absolute and relative terms. Between January and September, it registered a business growth rate (the difference between highs and lows for total businesses) of -11.8% and lost 33,600 companies in the first nine months of the year. They are followed by the Canary Islands (-9.4%), Castilla La Mancha (-9.2%), Murcia (-7.9%), and Valencia (-7.3%). At the other extreme is the Balearic Islands, with business growth in the three-quarters of -2.3%, followed by the Basque Country (-3.6%), Ceuta (-3.8%), Galicia (-5.1% ), and Aragon (-5.7%).