The number of people out of a job Spain, which has the highest unemployment rate in the industrialized world, rose further in February reaching a 15 year high, the Labour ministry said Wednesday.
There were nearly 4.3 million people registered as unemployed last month, up by 68,260 people or 1.6% from January, the ministry said. Compared with the total 12 months ago, the figure was up 4.0% or 168,638.
It is a bad number, secretary of state for employment, Mari Luz Rodriguez, said, adding that the rise in unemployment in February was nonetheless smaller than during the same month in 2010 and 2009.
Even more daunting youth unemployment in Spain is above 40% and in this last report increased 5% for those under 25, compared to a 1.2% increase for those 25 and over.
The government does not provide a jobless rate but the national statistics institute, which uses a different calculation method from the Labour ministry, said in January that the rate came to 20.33 percent at the end of 2010.
That is the highest level in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and it easily exceeds the government target of 19.4% for the year.
In October, the government raised its forecast for the jobless rate for 2011 to 19.3% from a previous estimate of 18.9%, due to the effects of government spending cuts aimed at reining in a massive public deficit and reassuring nervous markets that Spain will not need an Irish-style bailout.
It predicts the jobless rate will dip to 17.5% in 2012 and 16.2% in 2013.
The Spanish economy, the European Union's fifth biggest, slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of a labor-intensive construction boom.
It shrank 0.1% in 2010 and the government predicts the economy will expand by 1.3% this year. The IMF sees growth of just 0.6%.
Last year, the government introduced a hotly contested labor market reforms which cut the country's high cost of firing workers and gave companies more flexibility to reduce working hours and staff levels in economic downturns -- changes that it argued would boost job creation.