Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Spanish jobless total rises again

Spanish unemployment graph

The number of unemployed people in Spain jumped by 154,058 in February, as the deepening recession forced companies to lay off more workers.

The total number of people out of work in Spain now stands at almost 3.5 million, official figures show.

It means the number of unemployed has risen by more than 10% in the past two months alone, and 50% in a year.

Although the rise is smaller than that in January, analysts expect many more Spaniards will soon be out of work.

More job losses

"We'll hit four million around the third quarter - in the summer we could get there , or even at the end of the second quarter," said Angel Laborda at Funcas.

Jose M Montero
The situation is very bad here in Spain. We are European champions - not only in football, but also in unemployment
Jose M Montero, Castellon, Spain

"This rate of job losses is going to drag on - the rate of decline has not hit the bottom."

The official figure of 3.48 million claiming jobless benefit is the highest since 1996.

Spain has by far the highest unemployment rate in the EU. The latest quarterly figure, released at the end of 2008, was 13.9%.

The European Commission has forecast that the rate will continue to increase in Spain to 16.1% in 2010 and 18.7% the following year.

The ranks of Spain's unemployed have swelled by more than one million in the past year, with 199,000 workers losing their jobs in January alone.

Spain was until recently one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, but the global financial crisis has hit the country hard, particularly affecting the property and construction sectors.

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