Spain jobless rises to nearly 3.5 million: ministry

4th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Unemployment in Spain continues to rise as more workers are being laid off in the country’s world recession in recent years.

MADRID – The number of unemployed in Spain jumped by 154,058 in February over the previous month to nearly 3.5 million, as employers continued to slash jobs in the country's worst recession in a generation, the labour ministry said Tuesday.

By the end of February there were 3,481,859 unemployed workers in Spain, up 4.6 percent from the previous month and the highest number since 1996, when the current method of calculation was introduced, it said in a statement.

It was the 11th straight monthly increase. The jobless total more than doubled between February 2008 and last month, rising by 1.66 million.

The sharp rise in unemployment has pushed the issue to the top of Spaniards' concerns, according to polls, amid media reports that rising numbers of families are losing their homes and soup kitchens are getting busier as jobs become scarcer.

The figure for the number of registered unemployed is separate from the unemployment rate, which is released quarterly and stood at 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the highest rate in the 27-nation European Union.

Formerly one of the eurozone's chief engines of economic growth and job creation, Spain suffered an abrupt change of fortunes in 2008 when the global financial crisis hastened a correction that was already underway in its key real estate sector, once the driver of its decade-long economic boom.

The government predicts the economy will shrink by 1.6 percent this year after expanding by 1.2 percent in 2008.

AFP / Expatica

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