There is no respite in sight for Spain’s unemployed.
The jobless rate there has now soared to its highest level since government statisticians first started keeping such records back in the 1970s.
It rose to 26 percent of the workforce in the final three months of last year, that was up from 25 percent in the previous quarter.
As one jobseeker in Madrid said, it won’t be a happy new year: “The prospects for 2013? Well, if 2012 was a bad year, you can imagine the prospects that Spaniards have, nothing. In the end we’ll all have to leave, just like our parents did, to emigrate.”
The prolonged recession and deep spending cuts pushed the total number of Spaniards who are out of work close to six million at the end of last year.
That is up from 5.27 million, a year earlier, and 4.69 million the year before that.
The Madrid government continues to try to put the best spin on the figures, economy minister Fernando Jiménez Latorre said: “We expect that this year, the economic activity will develop and the labour market decline will be less, so we’ll end the year with positive numbers.”
That cut no ice with union leader Candido Méndez with the UGT who called labour market reform “a deadly machine destroying Spanish jobs.”
Behind the packed job centres are government efforts to lower one of the eurozone’s largest deficits with billions of euros of spending cuts and tax hikes.
Economists are gloomy, expecting the recession to last at least until the end of this year.