More than 3 million jobless in Spain

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Official results show number of registered unemployed workers in Spain rise to 3,128,963 at the end of last year.

MADRID – The number of registered unemployed workers in Spain soared to more than three million at the end of 2008 for the first time in 12 years, the government said Thursday.

At the end of December, there were 3,128,963 people out of work, up 139,694, or 4.6 percent, over November, the labour ministry said.

It was the ninth straight monthly increase. It was also the first time that the total has surpassed three million since 1996, when the current system for calculating the figure was introduced.

Over the past year, the number of job seekers has risen by 999,416, or 46.9 percent, the ministry said.

"We are going through a new and unprecedented situation and the year 2009 will be very difficult as unemployment will continue to grow," said the secretary general employment, Maravillas Rojo.

"There is however a reasonable hope that the measures adopted at a European level and by the Spanish government will have an effect on employment."

The ministry does not release the unemployment rate, which is measured by the National Statistics Institute.

Spain's unemployment rate has risen steadily since it dipped to 7.95 percent in the second quarter of 2007, its lowest level since 1978, to 12.8 percent in October, the highest rate in the 27-nation European Union.

The government, which has several times revised upwards its jobless rate for 2009, is currently predicting a figure of 12.5 percent this year. But the International Monetary Fund has forecast 14.7 percent.

After 15 years of strong growth, Spain’s economy battered by the collapse of its property market and the global financial crisis has been left on the brink of recession.

[AFP / Expatica]

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