Spanish unemployment hits 15-year high

2nd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's jobless numbers bulged to a 15-year high in November, official data showed Friday, less than three weeks before the newly elected right takes power.

The ranks of the unemployed rose from the previous month by 59,536, or 1.37 percent, to 4.42 million people in November, the highest level since 1996, the Labour Ministry said.

The rising jobless numbers add to huge challenges facing Spain's conservative Popular Party, which crushed the ruling Socialists in November 20 elections promising to fix the country's finances and economy.

Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy is to be sworn in November 21 as prime minister after a vote on his programme in parliament, where his party will hold sway with an absolute majority.

Rajoy has promised to make unemployment the priority of his government but he also has committed to austerity measures so as to meet Spain's promises to trim the public deificit.

The National Statistics Institute, which uses a different method of calculation to the Labour Ministry, says the number of unemployed rose to 4.978 million people in the third quarter from 4.834 million in the previous three months.

According to those figures, the Spanish unemployment rate soared to a 15-year high of 21.52 percent in the third quarter, the highest among major industrialised nations.

Spain has struggled to find jobs for the millions thrown out of work by a 2008 property bubble collapse. The outgoing Socialist government's end-year target of a 19.8-percent unemployment rate now seems unreachable.

© 2011 AFP

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