In Spain, the number of people registered as looking for a job rose in January.
The total was up by 2.4 percent as employers laid off workers hired for the Christmas holiday season.
The good news was that the rate of increase slowed from previous years.
That suggests the ailing labour market is finally starting to recovery .. as the government was keen to stress.
Employment Secretary Engracia Hidalgo told reporters: “Despite the fact that the unemployment rate has risen, there is a favorable long-term trend – as we’ve been pointing out – regarding hiring, and fewer people registering for unemployment benefits. That matches the recently published economic figures. “
Most January layoffs were from Spain’s service sector.
One sign of improvement last month was that the number of people working in the battered construction sector rose by 3,486.
Spain’s economy emerged from a two-year recession in the second half of last year.
Consequently many economists raised their economic forecasts and the government is predicting net job creation this year.
“These figures are, to some extent, positive, but continue to show a minimal, almost insignificant, step toward a real recovery in the labour market,” said Citi economist Jose Luis Martinez.
“We’ve almost certainly touched bottom and are seeing some recovery, but it’s very slow.”
One family’s struggle
Life remains a struggle even for many Spaniards who do have jobs as wages are often pitifully low.
The Reuters news agency spoke to Toni Trigo Domenech, 34, has lived with her 41-year-old husband Majid Mnissar and their three children in her parents’ small, two-bedroom flat in Madrid.
They had to move in with her parents after he lost his job and the family was evicted from their rented apartment four years ago.
At the time, she was earning just 690 euros a month as an auxiliary nurse for the elderly and, with rent of 650 euro a month, Trigo turned to her family for help.
“Either we stopped making the rent payments or we stopped eating. I couldn’t let my children go hungry”, Trigo said.
Within a year, Trigo had also lost her job and has been unable to find full-time work since.
Today, she works two cleaning jobs which earn her less than 400 euros a month, and is forced to accept help from a food bank. Meanwhile, tempers fray in the tiny, shared flat.
“Things are desperate,” she says. “There’s just nothing out there and my husband’s finding the same thing. It’s not easy standing outside a supermarket asking people to donate. But it has helped us put food on the table all these months.”