Spain’s jobless queues stretched to over five million in the last quarter of 2011, underlining once again the failure of austerity policies in the country.
The National Statistics Institute (INE) figures showed 5.3 million people were unemployed at the end of December, a rise from 4.9 million in the third quarter.
The jobless rate rose from 21.5% in the third quarter to 22.8% – the highest rate in nearly 17 years. The new figures show more than half of all 16-24 year-olds are out of work – 51.4% up from 45.8%.
The destruction in jobs was most severe among those with temporary contracts, down 6.2% compared to a 0.9% fall in employment among those with permanent contracts.
1.6 million household where no-one works
The number of households with everybody out of work increased to 1.575 million, up 10.5% from the third quarter.
The country already has the highest unemployment rate in the 17-nation eurozone and is expected to slide back into recession.
Spain’s new ruling Popular Party right wing government has pledged labour “reforms” to try to halt further unemployment. These will make it easier to fire workers, not hire them.
Unions demand urgent measures to reactivate economy
Trade union confederation Comissiones Obreras said the figures “demonstrate that prioritising the cutting of the deficit within impossible timescales and containing spending, reducing among other things, spending on research and development and quality public services, without measures to reactive the economy, has produced a further deterioration of the Spanish economy and has destroyed jobs at a faster rate than a year ago.”
Comisiones Obreras called for “urgent measures to reactive the economy and create jobs,” specifically reforms to the financial sector, a radical change to taxation including a war against evasion – measures that could could funds to support small businesses and spending on public services, thus creating jobs.