More than five million people are now out of work in Spain – the highest rate in nearly 17 years.
According to official figures, the unemployment rate rose by 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011. The new figures show more than half of all 16-24 year-olds are without work.
It is another devastating blow to the country’s beleaguered economy which is expected to slide back into recession.
Outside a Madrid unemployment office, one man told how he was going to improve his fortunes: “I’ve been unemployed since July 2010 and I think I’ll leave Spain for the United States because there are no jobs here. We’re a family, we’re all jobless and there is not much money at home.”
The future appears bleak too, with the Bank of Spain predicting the country’s economy will shrink by another 1.5 percent this year.
Spain’s new ruling conservative Popular Party has pledged labour reforms to try and reverse the trend. Such action cannot come quickly enough. With austerity measures beginning to bite, tens of thousands of public sector workers have been staging almost daily protests against job cuts.