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Coronavirus Omicron Live Tracker: Pandemic pushes Spanish workers out of the shadows

For decades, a cash-filled envelope – or “sobre” – was how hundreds of thousands of Spaniards working without legal contracts in tourism, agriculture or construction collected their salaries. COVID-19, however, may finally be putting paid to the “sobre”, economic data and workers’ experiences suggest – accelerating a six-year-long crackdown in Spain on the shadow economy and providing a welcome boost to the country’s public finances. The Spanish economy was the hardest hit in the euro area by the pandemic, shrinking 11% in 2020 amid tough lockdowns. Two years later, it has still not returned to its pre-virus level. But something unexpected has also happened: overall tax receipts and the number of people in official employment are now actually higher than at the point COVID-19 struck. The reason, according to labour experts, trade unionists, employers and workers interviewed by Reuters, is that one unforeseen side effect of the pandemic has been to flush many Spaniards out of the shadow economy and into regular employment. Reuters

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