Unemployment in Spain tops five million

The outlook for the European economy turned a shade darker yesterday after new figures showed that Spain's jobless total had surged beyond the five million mark for the first time since modern records began, with the unemployment rate rising to 22.9 per cent.

The increase to 5,273,600 in the final quarter of 2011 means 1.5 million households now have no wageearners. The dismal figures also reinforced Spain's position as the country with Europe's worst unemployment rate.

But after five years of relentlessly rising dole queues, perhaps the most shocking figure of all is that 48.6 per cent of its under 24-year-olds are now out of work. Since 2008, the youth unemployment total has almost tripled, to nearly 900,000.