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Spain: unemployment is record; more to come admits minister

Friday, January 9th 2009 - 20:00 UTC
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The number of registered jobless in Spain topped 3 million for the first time ever in December and the government said unemployment would worsen in 2009 as the global economic crisis continues to wreak havoc on the country's construction and tourism industries.

Comparable government figures on the number of jobless in Spain go back to 1996 but Employment Secretary General Maravillas Rojo said during a conference on the data similar levels hadn't been seen since the recession of 1987. The number of people out of work in Spain jumped by 139,694 people, the ninth straight month of increases and more than expected, to reach 3.13 million, government data showed on Thursday. Spain's Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho said he believed the number of jobless would continue to rise in the next few months though at a slower pace than has been recorded since October. Corbacho also dismissed some analysts' forecasts that Spanish unemployment will rise by over a million to over 4 million. "I don't think we've hit bottom...but I don't think we'll reach 4 million jobless. We should remain much lower than that," Corbacho said during an interview on national radio. The Labor Ministry's tally nearly matches totals in much larger economies such as Germany, where the December level was 3.18 million. Since the same month last year, Spain's registered jobless has soared by nearly 1 million people or 47% as the global credit crunch toppled a decade-long housing boom and hammered spending. Fourth quarter unemployment rate will be reported January 23 by the statistics institute, with the rate expected to rise to over 13% from 11.3% reported in the third quarter. Analysts had expected Spanish joblessness to rise sharply in December, as the Euro zone's fourth largest economy entered its first recession in 15 years, but were surprised by the increase which was four times higher than the year-earlier month. The government has forecast an unemployment rate of 12.5% in 2009, though the European Union confirmed on Thursday Spain had already surpassed that figure in November at 13.4%, the highest rate in the region. The government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has launched a 10 billion euro public works and infrastructure program to create 300,000 jobs in 2009 and said on Thursday the plan will begin to create posts in March.

Categories: Economy, International.

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