In Spain, the number of jobless leapt by nearly 200,000 in January – the biggest monthly rise on record.
It was the tenth straight monthly increase as the collapse of the Spanish housing boom coincided with the global financial crisis. Outside a job centre one woman said: “It’s the first time that I’ve claimed the dole and I am stressed because I am not used to it and I’m a woman who needs to work.” Small businesses, which employ around 80 percent of the workforce in Spain, have run out of credit and customers. Since January last year, the number of people registered as unemployed in Spain has risen by just over one million. The total is now 3.33 million, that is around 14 percent of the population. That is the highest rate of unemployment in the European Union. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero – who this week again urged banks to increase lending – said: “We’re going to get through this economic crisis and the government is going make major investments to preserve jobs from March and April.” In previous months it has been the construction industry that has lost most jobs, but the latest figures show that the effects of the collapse of a decade-long housing and property boom are spreading. In January Spain’s services sector was the hardest hit followed by industry. The government insists unemployment will not hit the four million mark, but the Employment Secretary Maravillas Rojo added: “Forecasts are not exact or unchangeable.”