Spain to boost minimum wage and pensions in 2011: PM

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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday announced a hike in the minimum wage and in pensions for 2011 in a bid to help those worst affected by the country's economic crisis.

"Despite the economic crisis, we continue to make a special effort at solidarity," he told a year-end news conference.

He said the minimum wage will rise by 1.3 percent and pensions by an average of 2.3 percent, and the minimum rate by 1.3 percent.

He said 2010 "has been a difficult year," but 2011 "should be a year in which we go from recession to recovery."

The Socialist leader predicted the country would see "positive growth" in the fourth quarter after three months of stagnation.

The Spanish economy, the EU's fifth largest, slumped into recession during the second-half of 2008 due to the collapse of a property bubble.

It emerged with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second, but then stalled with zero percent growth in the third.

The government this year introduced tough austerity measures in a bid to slash its soaring public deficit and ease fears of a Greek-style EU bailout of the economy.

© 2010 AFP

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