Joblessness climbs in Spain

December 3rd, 2010 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Dec 3 (IANS/EFE) Spain’s jobless rolls expanded by 24,318 last month to more than 4.11 million people, an increase of 0.6 percent from October, the Labour and Immigration Ministry said Thursday.

It was the smallest climb in unemployment in the month of November since 1998, according to Secretary of State for Employment Mari Luz Rodriguez, who said the figure could be interpreted “as a normalisation” of the Spanish labour market.

The number of jobless has grown for four consecutive months and is up by 241,348, or 6.4 percent, for the year so far.

The global recession and the bursting of a long-building construction and real estate bubble have driven Spanish unemployment to 20 percent, the highest rate in the 27-member European Union.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced Wednesday that a special payment of 426 euros ($560) a month for people who have exhausted their 24-month entitlement to unemployment benefits will end in February.

The elimination of the jobless aid is part of a package of measures to boost the economy while also curbing government spending.

Under the plan, an additional 40,000 small and medium-sized firms will qualify for the lowest corporate tax rate, the premier said in parliament, where he also pledged to double - from 1,500 to 3,000 - the number of centres to help unemployed workers with job searches and retraining.

Other parts of the package include selling stakes in the government companies that manage Spain’s airports and the national lottery.

Zapatero’s administration rolled out the economic package in an attempt to reassure financial markets, which have pummelled Spain since debt-strapped Ireland was forced to accept a bailout by the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

The prime minister and other officials have been saying for months that Spain will not need a bailout, but their tone has become more emphatic since the EU and IMF came to the rescue of Ireland’s struggling banks.

The government stress that Madrid’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product is below the EU average and vows to follow through with austerity measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2013 from current levels of more than 10 percent.

After a period of low growth following the global recession, Spain’s GDP stood still in the third quarter.


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