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Spain struggles with unemployment

Spain struggles with unemployment
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Long queues at the Jobcentre have become horribly familiar in Spain since the start of the economic crisis.

The unemployment rate has broken all previous records, helped by the collapse of the construction industry.

According to many analysts, it will take at least four years before Spain’s jobless numbers return to pre-crisis levels.

Unemployment in Spain, at twice the average, is by far the highest in the eurozone.

It is lowest in the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg while in France and Germany it is 6.7 and 9.8 percent respectively.

Joblessness in Spain affects everyone but particularly hits those under 25. In this category it is three times the global average. Industry and the building sector are especially vulnerable. Contracts are often short-term and many find they are overqualified. 44% of young workers are in jobs where their qualifications mean nothing.

But reversing the trend and creating jobs means changing the system completely, and that takes time.

Before the crisis, the economy was operating at full throttle and jobs were easy to come by.

But it was all based on one sector – construction. For ten years the banks lent money freely, and buildings went up everywhere. When the housing sector foundered, they went from building one million new homes a year to just 60 thousand – in other words, a drop of 95 percent.

These days, lack of job security is the norm. Work for just a few weeks or a few months is becoming more common, and for salaries of less than a thousand euros a month.

Even so, the Spanish are not yet ready to take just any job. Seasonal work, normally the preserve of immigrants, is not tempting.