More Spaniards to pick grapes to seek livelihood

6th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Unemployed Spaniards who used to work at construction sites are expected to cross over into France to work during the grape harvest.

6 August 2008

MADRID - The abrupt slowdown in Spain's once-booming property sector will lead to a rise in the number of Spaniards who will cross over into France to pick grapes this year, a Spanish union predicted Tuesday.

About 12,000 Spaniards will head to France to work during the grape harvest, a 10 percent increase over the same time last year, according to the migration secretary of the General Workers Union (UGT), Maria Angeles Repilado.

"This is a direct consequence of the economic crisis in the residential construction sector," she said.

Many low-skilled workers who in recent years stopped working in France as seasonal farm hands to take up better paying jobs in the construction sector are now returning to the grape harvest, she said.

The number of registered unemployed in Spain rose by 1.5 percent in July from the previous month to a 10-year high of 2.43 million, with nearly two of every three layoffs coming from the construction sector.

The government predicts the unemployment rate will rise to 10.4 percent this year, and to 12.5 percent in 2009, after hitting 8.3 percent in 2007.

But some analysts forecast even higher unemployment. Last week Spain's second-largest bank, BBVA, predicted the jobless rate in the eurozone's fourth largest economy could surpass 14 percent by the end of 2009.

Spain led job creation in the eurozone in the past few years, with an unemployment rate of 7.95 percent in the second quarter of 2007, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 1978.

But rising interest rates and the international credit crunch caused by the US sub-prime crisis, combined with oversupply, have caused a decade-long property boom to collapse, driving up unemployment.

[AFP / Expatica]

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