Spain’s official unemployment advanced for a third month in March, deepening the divide between peripheral economies struggling to recover from the financial crisis and Germany’s booming labour market. It was the worst record for Spain since 1996.
The number of people registering for jobless benefits in Spain rose by 34,406, or 0.8%, from February to 4.33 million, the Labour Ministry said in Madrid. Youth unemployment, up to 24 years, reached an impressive 43.6%.
Spain’s unemployment remains at more than 20%, while the number of Germans out of work dropped to the lowest since 1992 last month. Spain’s economy emerged from an almost two-year recession in 2010 before contracting again in the third quarter as austerity measures undermined the recovery.
As part of efforts to tackle the highest jobless rate in Europe, the Socialist government will present a plan this month to encourage unregistered jobs to be declared, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said last week.
The measures will offer short-term incentives for underground workers to be legalized and will toughen penalties on illegal labour and on people claiming unemployment benefits while working for cash. As many as 500,000 informal jobs may be registered, Expansion newspaper reported on March 31, citing government advisers.
The doubling of the unemployment rate since the collapse of the decade-long property boom and the deepest budget cuts in at least three decades have eroded support for Rodriguez Zapatero, who said on April 2 that he won’t run for a third term in elections scheduled for 2012.
The opposition Popular Party would win 44.1% of the vote if general elections were held now, compared with 28.3% for Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialists, according to a poll by El Pais on April 3.