The economy of the emptied Spain was one of the great unknowns of this pandemic: would small businesses survive? Would young workers emigrate to population centers where they found job opportunities? ? The health crisis has generated great uncertainty regarding the rural environment .
However, the pandemic has not affected these municipalities more than the rest of the economies, just differently. In the same way that Covid-19 has generated business opportunities, it has also forced small rural companies to draw the blind forever .
The reality is that the famous 80/20 that occurs in Spain, where 80% of the population lives in 20% of the territory, increases when the self-employed who carry out their activity in small municipalities are served.
Only 10% of the group runs a business in rural areas , according to the data managed by the Union of Professionals and Self-Employed Workers (UPTA), and taking into account that in these populations there is practically no large company, these small entrepreneurs are the that sustain the economy of their people.
This situation further complicates the economic sustenance of emptied Spain, since one or two businesses generate all the employment in a municipality. Hence the doubts surrounding the financial sustainability of the rural environment during the pandemic.
Many freelancers have addressed these small municipalities
However, despite all this uncertainty, the economy of these municipalities has not fared so badly. In fact, according to Eduardo Abad, president of UPTA, to this medium, a large number of self-employed workers from population centers, with enough availability to carry out their activity from home, decided to move to a town to work .
“Thousands of professionals seriously considered changing their work environment. Some workers who carry out very specific activities in the field of teleworking and who have already adapted their activity to friendlier environments from the point of view of reconciling work time, leisure and time with the family. In addition, they chose these destinations away from the hostility with which the pandemic was influencing large cities, “explains Abad.
This resulted in an opportunity for the rural economy. While population centers faced heavy restrictions and perimeter closures, many small municipalities enjoyed more freedom. Therefore, the migration of these workers, some even with their families, represented a new source of income for small businesses in the area.
The pandemic has allowed small rural businesses to compete with the big city
On the other hand, the initial phase of the pandemic was a great boost for all the self-employed in the primary sector , as explained by the president of UPTA, thanks to the growth in demand throughout the country due to the fall in imports.
“The beginning of the sanitary crisis did not suppose a dramatic situation for the rural economy, since farmers and ranchers were able to increase their turnover, since they were at the foot of the canyon to provide all the essential goods that the whole country needed,” he says Abbot.
This has allowed these small producers to have been able to increase the employment of their municipalities , preparing their towns for the following months, which were not so good. According to the president, as other companies and small businesses closed due to the health crisis, the self-employed providers lost the demand for their products, so the billing fell drastically, also affecting the rest of the inhabitants of the town.
“When we are talking about small freelancers who produce for third parties, obviously we are talking about an economic cataclysm in these small towns. In these cases, there are only two or three companies, with 15 or 20 workers each, that support the people. it produces a collapse due to contagion from the other companies to which they supplied their products, “says Abad.
The emptied Spain urgently needs economic activities related to the care of the elderly
Although, according to the president of UPTA, Covid-19 has not affected the generational change more than it was already affected, it is necessary to remember that the population of these municipalities is aging. For this reason, Abad urges the Administrations to take action on the matter.
For him, it is of vital importance to promote self-employment in these regions aimed above all at the care of the elderly. “It is necessary to carry out this process so that older people can have quality care like those who live in an urban area have,” he explains.
For this, it is necessary to increase the business attractiveness of these municipalities, providing them with direct aid to entrepreneurship, as well as benefits to businesses already installed so that they can improve the service they provide. This would be a way, not only to attract new companies to rural areas, but to stimulate migrations from population centers to small municipalities, thus improving the depopulation situation that occurs in these areas.