There is a glimmer of good news for the Spanish government as the number of people registered as unemployed there edged down in March. It is the first time in five years that the total has fallen in that month.
But the decline – by just under 5,000 – still means that there are more than five million people looking for work.
The Labour Ministry said the figures show the government’s policies are working.
But jobseekers remain cautious. One man said: “Let’s see if it’s true, that unemployment is going down and we can make some progress.”
A woman outside a Madrid job centre longed for a jobless total below the current 26 percent saying: “Unemployment is still increasing anyway. I sure hope it does decrease, even if it’s only to 15 or 20 percent, but it needs to go down because the situation in this country is very bad.”
The unemployment figures illustrate the massive job the Madrid government faces in digging the country out of recession.
Reportedly Spain is about to revise down its growth forecast for 2013.
A government source told the Reuters news agency that Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be forecast to shrink by 1.0 percent, rather than 0.5 percent
But a European Commission spokesman has denied rumours that it is in talks with Madrid over giving it more time to cut its budget deficit.
Spain reported a deficit of 6.98 percent of GDP in 2012, excluding the cost of propping up its ailing banks, missing its EU-agreed target, of 6.3 percent, for the second year in a row.
By 2014 it is supposed to cut the deficit to 3.0 percent of GDP.