Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Spain's jobless rate hits 13.9%

People queuing at a job centre in Madrid
Spain has the highest unemployment in the eurozone

Spain's unemployment rate, which was already the highest in the eurozone, hit 13.9% in the last quarter of 2008.

During the period, 3.2 million people were out of work, which was nearly 1.3 million more than in the same three months of the previous year.

The Spanish government expects it to peak at 15.9%, but the European Union says it could go as high as 19%.

The collapse of the property sector sparked Spain's recession, with tourism and the service sector also weak.

Reduced production by international car firms operating in Spain has also increased unemployment.

"All the economic analyses show Spain as the European country which has been hardest hit by the crisis and will take the longest time to recover," said Esther Sanchez, professor of labour rights at the economic institute Esade.

There are also signs that many people are giving up looking for jobs.

In the least three months of 2008, Spain's total workforce, which measures the number of people working or looking for a job, fell by 400,000 having fallen by 70,000 in the previous three months.

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