Spanish jobless rate soars to 18.83 percent

29th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

A total of 4.326 million people were out of work, up more than one million from a year ago, shows official data.

Madrid – Spain's unemployment rate soared to 18.83 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 as Europe's fifth-largest economy remained mired in its worst recession for decades, official data showed Friday.

A total of 4.326 million people were out of work, up more than one million from a year ago, the National Statistics Institute said.

Since it entered recession at the end of 2008, Spain has seen a sharp rise in its jobless rate, now one of the highest in the 27-nation European Union.

The rate of 18.83 percent is up from 17.92 percent in the third quarter, or a further 203,200 people, and from 13.91 percent at the end of 2008.

It compares to a rate 9.5 percent across the EU in November.

The Spanish economy contracted 0.3 percent in the third quarter, its fifth straight quarterly decline, even as the entire eurozone officially joined the United States and Japan in emerging from recession during the same period.

Spain's economy has proved especially vulnerable to the global credit crunch because growth relied heavily on credit-fuelled domestic demand and a property boom boosted by easy access to loans that has collapsed.

A recent opinion poll said unemployment was the chief concern of Spaniards, far ahead of terrorism or immigration.

Spain has made the fight against unemployment one of the planks of it EU presidency, which began on 1 January, but the government does not foresee a return to falling jobless rates in the country until the end of 2010.

EU employment ministers, meeting in Barcelona on Thursday, pledged to maintain economic stimulus measures as long as the jobless rate is on the rise.

The European Commission has forecasts the EU rate will breach the 10-percent mark this year.

Foreigners in Spain, many of whom had come to work in the construction industry, were the hardest hit by the rise in unemployment. A total of 29.7 percent were out of work compared to a rate of 16.8 percent for Spaniards.

The rocketing jobless rate could also have consequences for the economy as consumer spending hits the gross domestic product.

AFP / Expatica

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