Spanish official unemployment rises for third month

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Unemployment queues in Spain, which has the highest jobless rate in the European Union, rose for the third month running in October, the labour ministry said on Wednesday.

In October alone, the number registered as unemployed grew by 68,213 people, or 1.7 percent, from the total in September to 4,085.976, it said in a statement.

Compared with the total 12 months ago, the figure was up 7.3 percent, or by 277,623.

Construction was the only sector in which unemployment declined in October, falling 0.4 percent over the previous month.

The Spanish economy emerged from the recession it entered during the second-half of 2008 due to the collapse of a property bubble with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second.

The labour ministry does not provide a jobless rate, but the National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry method, said on Friday that the rate had dropped to 19.79 percent in the third quarter from 20.09 percent in the second.

It was the first drop in the unemployment rate since it dipped to 7.95 percent in second quarter of 2007, its lowest level since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator Franscisco Franco in 1975.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the dip in the jobless rate in the third quarter "positive" but warned that "we have a long and hard road ahead to turn the employment situation around and reduce unemployment."

Last month his socialist government raised its forecast for the jobless rate for next year to 19.3 percent from a previous estimate of 18.9 percent.

It predicts the jobless rate will dip to 17.5 percent in 2012 and 16.2 percent in 2013.

© 2010 AFP

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