The death of Francisco Franco coincided with a worldwide economic slump precipitated by a massive increase in oil prices. Though isolated to some extent from the outside world, Franco's Spain was as deeply affected by this economic slump as any country. Primarily, this was because Spain imported something like seventy percent of its energy, mostly in the form of Middle Eastern oil.
The oil crisis sparked off a massive decline in the Spanish economy. With the government preoccupied with the transition to democracy, economic policy was very much put on the back burner. In the meantime, productivity declined sharply, wages skyrocketed, and rural areas became depopulated as large numbers of agricultural workers left their villages to seek better opportunities in the towns and cities.
During the nearly four decades of Franco's dictatorship, agriculture formed a significant part of Spain's economy, but in the years immediately following the dictator's death, the Spanish economy became more industrialized. In turn, this undermined the social order which had provided the foundations for Franco's regime. With trade unions now allowed to organize for the first time in decades, wealthy landowners no longer had the whip held over their laborers.
Even though unemployment in the cities shot up dramatically during this period, many workers from the Spanish countryside still emigrated to urban areas in the belief that there would be less poverty and exploitation there.