Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Spain's jobless total hits 22.9%

Employees of Telefonica protest against job cuts in Barcelona (AP)
People eating at a free meal centre in Pamplona, as Spain hit an unemployment rate of almost 23 per cent (AP)

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Spain has risen by 112,269 in January, taking the overall figure to 4.7 million.

Spain's unemployment rate stands at 22.9%, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

The Spanish economy posted negative growth in the fourth quarter of last year and is expected to enter recession this quarter.

The new right-leaning Popular Party government has introduced a series of reforms in a desperate attempt to shake up the economy but it acknowledges that unemployment is likely to continue rising throughout this year.

The employment ministry said that the total number of people claiming benefits was up by more than 400,000 from February last year.

Prime Minister Mariano Roy said the country will miss its deficit goal for this year, risking sanctions from the European Union.

He said the government deficit will reach 5.8% of economic output this year, much higher than the 4.4% Madrid had promised to the other EU states.

However, he said Spain still aims to cut its deficit to 3% in 2013.

Spain missed last year's 6 % deficit target - it recorded a 8.5 % total instead.

But a spokesman for the European Commission said that the EU's executive had not softened this year's goal.

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