Spain unemployment hits record high

The total number of unemployed people in Spain has now passed six million, as Tom Burridge reports

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Spain's unemployment rate soared to a new record of 27.2% of the workforce in the first quarter of 2013, according to official figures.

The total number of unemployed people in Spain has now passed the six million figure, although the rate of the increase has slowed.

The figures underline Spain's struggle to emerge from an economic crisis which began five years ago.

A big demonstration in Madrid is being planned against the austerity measures.

On Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will unveil fiscal and policy measures aimed at halting recession in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

"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," said Jose Luis Martinez, strategist at Citi.

Start Quote

Next year we will have growth and jobs will be created in our country”

End Quote Mariano Rajoy Spanish prime minister

Last week, the International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 forecast for Spain's growth to a 1.6% contraction from 1.5% and said the unemployment rate would peak at 27% this year.

Peak reached?

The unemployment figure is the highest since at least 1976, the year after dictator Francisco Franco's death began Spain's transition to democracy.

Jose Mata: "I have two friends, who were unemployed here, that went to Chile and they have found jobs"

The jobless rate, which stood at 7.9% in mid-2007, has risen relentlessly since the collapse in 2008 of a Spain's labour-intensive property boom.

On Wednesday, Mr Rajoy told parliament that the job situation for the entire year "will not be good, but it will be less bad than in the preceding years".

"Next year we will have growth and jobs will be created in our country," he said.

Meanwhile official figures in France also showed a fresh record high in unemployment. Some 3.2 million people are now seeking work in the eurozone's second-largest economy.

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