Unemployment in Spain reached almost 3.5 million in February, that is the highest level in 13 years.
Jobless benefit claims leapt by 154,000 last month as Spain continues to suffer the effects of the credit crunch and the property bubble bursting. From people in the queue outside a Madrid job centre, these were some of the comments: “My entire family is on the dole.” “I was on a part-time contract which finished, so here I am.” “For three years I worked at a holiday resort and now everyone there has been fired.” The number of Spaniards out of work in February was 50 percent up on a year ago and has risen over 10 percent in just the last two months. Spain has the worst unemployment rate in the euro zone and pressure is increasing on the Madrid government to do more in response. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said: “The government has just proposed new measures to the bosses and unions which are intended to both improve the circumstances of people without jobs and to boost employment.” That is a 1.5 billion euro package of social security tax breaks and employment incentives for companies that was unveiled on Monday. But some economists believe the jobless total will reach four million by summer as recession-hit firms continue to cut workers.