Spain jobless rate rises to top European tables

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While Spain still enjoys one of the highest rates of economic growth in Europe, it now also has the second-highest rate of unemployment.

3 March 2008

MADRID - While Spain still enjoys one of the highest rates of economic growth in Europe, it now also has the second-highest rate of unemployment.

According to figures released Friday by the European Union's statistics office Eurostat, 8.8 percent of Spain's economically active population was out of work in January. That figure was only surpassed by Slovakia within the 27-member European Union.

The average jobless rate for the EU was 6.8 percent and in the euro region was unchanged at 7.1 percent.

In addition to having the second-highest unemployment in the EU, Spain was one of the few countries to see a deterioration in its labour market over the past 12 months, with the jobless rate in January rising by 0.6 points versus the same month a year earlier.

The only other countries in the EU that saw unemployment rise were Ireland and Estonia, with the rest either seeing jobless rates unchanged or declining.

After retreating for several years, the labour market suffered a setback toward the end of last year, a trend that spilled over to the start of this year.

One of the reasons for this was a marked slowdown in the property market, which affected employment in the construction industry and in related service sectors. The number of jobless claims in January shot up by 132,378.

[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]

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