Spanish official unemployment rises for fourth month
Unemployment queues in Spain, which has the highest jobless rate in the European Union, rose for the fourth month running in November, the labour ministry said on Thursday.
There were 4.085 million people registered as jobless in November, up 24,318 from the previous month, it said in a statement.
Compared with the total 12 months ago, the figure was up 6.24 percent, or 241,348.
The government sought to downplay the data by saying "it was the weakest (monthly) increase in unemployment in 12 years."
"Every increase in unemployment news is not positive, so we must continue to work" to achieve a decline, Secretary of State for Employment Mari Luz Rodriguez said.
But the November increase "can be explained by a normalisation of our job market."
The government does not provide a jobless rate, but the National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry, said on October 29 that the rate had dropped to 19.79 percent in the third quarter from 20.09 percent in the second.
It was the first drop in the unemployment rate since it dipped to 7.95 percent in second quarter of 2007, its lowest level since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator Franscisco Franco in 1975.
Spain has the highest jobless rate in the 27-nation European Union, and around double the average EU rate of 9.6 percent.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero last month warned of a "long and difficult road ahead" to overcome the country's high unemployment rate.
The Socialist government predicts a jobless rate this year of 19.4 percent, 19.3 percent in 2011, 17.5 percent in 2012 and 16.2 percent in 2013.
The Spanish economy emerged from the recession it entered during the second-half of 2008 due to the collapse of a property bubble with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second and zero percent in the third.
The government this year introduced tough austerity measure in a bid to slash its soaring public deficit and ease fears of a Greek-style EU bailout of the economy.
© 2010 AFP