Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero believes his country’s economy will soon start to recover despite new figures showing unemployment has risen above 20 percent.
The figures were accidentally published by Spain’s official statistics agency on Monday, four days ahead of schedule.
Zapatero confirmed the figures were correct, adding he was confident his government’s policies would achieve his goal of reducing the EU’s highest jobless rate.
But Mariano Rajoy, leader of the opposition PP, poured scorn on Zapatero’s claims.
He told lawmakers: “You said yourself in this house that the yardstick to measure the effectiveness of your economic policies is job creation. By that token, your economic polices are quite simply a mess.”
Spain’s economy proved exposed to the recent collapse of a credit fuelled property boom, which also triggered a downturn in the country’s labour intensive construction industry.
According to the latest figures, there are 4.61 million Spaniards who are out of work at present.
That means Spain will increase spending on unemployment benefits at a time when investors want Madrid to slash its public deficit and avoid a Greece-style fiscal crisis.