Spanish official unemployment surges

23rd January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain's unemployment rate surged to 13.91 percent of the labor force in the fourth quarter from 11.33 percent in the previous three months, that national statistics body said on Friday.

MADRID—The ranks of the jobless increased by 609,100 between the third and fourth quarters, leaving Spain with 3.207 million unemployed workers.

The once-buoyant Spanish economy has been clobbered by the near collapse of its housing market along with an international financial meltdown. The government now foresees a jobless rate of 15.9 percent this year.

Standard and Poor's said on Monday it had lowered its rating on Spain's long-term debt because of concern about the country's economy and public finances.

Spain's rating was lowered by one notch to AA-plus from AAA.

AAA is the highest possible rating, while AA-plus indicates that Spain has a very strong capacity to repay its borrowings, according to Standard and Poor's scale.

"We believe that current economic and financial market conditions have highlighted structural weaknesses in the Spanish economy that are inconsistent with a 'AAA' rating," said an S and P statement.


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