Spanish unemployment hits 4 million

The number of unemployed Spaniards last month rose above four million for the first time in the country's history, official data revealed yesterday, underlining the scale of its economic collapse.

The government said 125,000 people registered as unemployed last month, taking the jobless total to 4.05 million, or about 17.5 per cent of the working population.

Spain is the only major Western economy that has yet to emerge from recession, with a collapse in its construction industry having spread quickly to manufacturing and services. By contrast, German has around 3.6 million unemployed people, despite having a population that is twice the size of Spain's.

Within Spain, there is also widespread cynicism about the government's figures. The National Statistics Institute said last week that unemployment had reached 4.3 million, equivalent to a joblessness rate of 18.8 per cent.

But trade unions put the true figure at almost 4.5 million, representing almost 20 per cent of those available to work.

In some areas, such as the Balearic islands, unemployment rates of 45 per cent have been reported.

Maravillas Rojo, the government's employment secretary general, attempted to put a brave face on the figures yesterday, insisting the rate at which joblessness was increasing was beginning to slow.

"January is a bad month for unemployment," she said. "Historically, it rises in that month, even when the economy is growing."

Even so, the government's own projections are for unemployment to rise above 20 per cent this year, before beginning to decline. Its efforts to stimulate the economy and create jobs will also be hindered by the promises it has made to begin tackling national debt.

It has pledged to get the budget deficit down to 3 per cent of GDP by 2013, from 11.4 per cent last year. That equates to spending cuts of about €50m (£44m).

Nevertheless, the socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has promised new policies to tackle joblessness.

Ms Rojo said yesterday that Mr Zapatero was "aware that the situation demands new measures" and said he would "present proposals" at a meeting with unions and business leaders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot