Spanish unemployment hits almost 23%

People wait in line in front of a government employment office in Sevilla, Spain, on Friday.

Story highlights

  • New Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy is struggling to create jobs and stop the economy shrinking
  • Spanish employers are pushing for a profound reform of the country's rigid labour market

The number of Spaniards without jobs rose by more than half a million last year to reach 5.27m, or 22.85 per cent of the workforce, in the final quarter, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE).

The figures, not seasonally adjusted, confirm Spain's jobs record as by far the worst among big eurozone economies following the collapse of the Spanish housing construction bubble from 2007.

Mariano Rajoy, the Popular party prime minister who took power in December, is struggling to create jobs and stop the economy shrinking even as he reinforces the budgetary austerity plans agreed by the previous government with the European Union.

Spanish employers are pushing for a profound reform of the country's rigid labour market as one way of encouraging the hiring of workers and so reducing the unemployment rate, which is more than double the eurozone average.

Spain's jobless total hits 5.3 million
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They also say the true situation is not as bad as portrayed in the statistics, because of widespread cheating by people seeking unemployment benefits while continuing to work, especially in southern Spain.

Andalusia, the big region in the south, recorded the highest unemployment rate of 31.23 per cent of the workforce, according to INE, while the Basque country in the north had the lowest rate of 12.61 per cent.

The quarterly survey showed 1.57m households have not a single family member in work.

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