Spanish unemployment rose to the highest in more than a decade in December, 19.3%, capping a year that saw the nation’s jobless rate soar to double the Euro- zone average. The number of people registering for unemployment benefits increased by 54,657, or 1.41 percentage points from November to 3.92 million.
From a year earlier, unemployment climbed by 25%, admitted the Spanish Labour Ministry on Tuesday. The only good piece of news this year was that the number of jobs destroyed in 2009 was 200.000 less than in 2008.
European Union data said Spain’s jobless rate jumped to 19.3% in December and the International Monetary Fund forecasts that it will rise above 20% by the end of 2010. While the Euro-area economy will probably expand in 2010, Spain’s government expects a full-year contraction as the real-estate market works through an excess of at least one million unsold homes and households pay down debt.
Government stimulus measures that helped to create more than 400,000 jobs were due to wind down at the end of last year. A project to spend 8 billion Euros on public infrastructure projects will be replaced this year by a fund half that size.
Employment secretary Maravillas Rojo said that unemployment in 2008 increased “less” than in 2008, which shows that “job destruction continues to mild down”.
Unemployment in Spain compares with a Euro-area average of 9.8% in October, according to the most recent EU data. Youth unemployment in Spain is more than 40%.
The increase in joblessness is eroding support for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero Socialist Party. The opposition People’s Party would win 43.6% of the vote if elections were held now, compared with 38.5% for the Socialists, according to a poll by Sigma Dos published by El Mundo newspaper on January 2.
The Spanish economy officially went into recession in the second quarter of 2008 following years of sustained growth. GDP in the third quarter of 2009 contracted 0.3% and 4% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period of 2008.
The 16-country Euro-zone was declared officially out of recession in the third quarter of 2009.