More than six million Spanish were out of a job in the first quarter of 2013, raising the unemployment rate to an all-time high of 27.2 percent, according to figures released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute on Thursday.
Spain’s National Statistics Institute says the country’s unemployment rate shot up to a record 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
The agency said Thursday the number of people unemployed rose by 237,400 people in the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, taking the total to 6.2 million.
The huge sums poured into the global financial system by major central banks have eased bond market pressure on Spain, but the cuts Madrid has made in spending to regain investors’ confidence have left it deep in recession.
“These figures are worse than expected and highlight the serious situation of the Spanish economy as well as the shocking decoupling between the real and the financial economy,” strategist at Citi in Madrid Jose Luis Martinez told Reuters.
The collapse of a property boom driven by cheap credit has seen millions in the construction sector laid off since 2009 and private service sector, worth almost half gross domestic product, has followed as Spaniards tightened purse strings and investment plummeted.
The conservative government has launched a series of financial and labor reforms and pursued a raft of spending cuts and tax increases that have managed to reduce a swollen deficit. Even so, the country had the highest budget deficit among the 17 European Union countries that use the euro in 2012.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said earlier this week that a new reform plan, to be announced on Friday, would not include more austerity measures in an effort to calm increasingly desperate Spaniards and reassure investors the country will soon be able to grow.
Protests have become commonplace across the country and thousands of police have been drafted in to Madrid to handle a march on Parliament on Thursday.
But few believe the government’s plans will be ambitious enough to restart the ailing economy and create jobs. The International Monetary Fund sees Spanish unemployment at 26.5 percent next year.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-04-25