Spain raises 2011 jobless rate forecast
Spain, which has the highest unemployment rate among industrialised countries, Wednesday raised its forecast for the 2011 rate to 19.8 percent from 19.3 percent.
The rate will ease to 18.5 percent in 2012, 17.3 percent in 2013 and 16 percent in 2014, Finance Minister Elena Salgado told a news conference.
The labour ministry said Monday that the number of Spaniards out of work rose for a third consecutive month in March, up 0.8 percent from February to 4.33 million for the highest level since records began in 1996.
The National Statistics Institute's said the unemployment rate for for the three months to December 2010 was 20.33 percent, the highest level in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Spain's booming construction industry drew millions of unskilled immigrant workers and generated high levels of economic growth in the decade to 2008.
But the collapse of the property bubble, compounded by the global financial crisis, left many people out of work, especially immigrants and youths.
Salgado also cut the country's 2012 growth forecast to 2.3 percent from 2.5 percent but maintained the estimate that the public deficit will drop to 4.4 percent of output that year from 6.0 percent in 2011.
For this year, the government left unchanged its forecast for growth of 1.3 percent.
© 2011 AFP