Unemployment figures confirm economic crisis

Unemployment goes up by 246,600 in first 3 months of 2008

The unemployment rate in Spain is now 9.63%, which is its highest level in the last 3 years. According to official statistics there are now 246,600 more unemployed than at the start of 2008. Even the Minister for the Economy, Pedro Solbes, described these figures as negative and went even further to say that the unemployment rate could continue to rise in the near future. The total number of unemployed now sits at 2,174,200. In the first quarter of 2008 it is estimated that 74,000 jobs were lost.

Last Tuesday, Solbes admitted that unemployment figures had not, in his opinion, reached their peak and said that unemployment could continue to rise. However, he also reminded people of worse times in the past when the unemployment rate in Spain reached 20% and said that 8%, 9.5% or even 10% would be the highest it would reach this time.

The Minister for the Economy also tried to find something positive to say in a rather negative panorama by pointing out that the number of people with temporary contracts had gone down by 148,100.

while people with permanent jobs had increased by 88,900.

Solbes also explained that the rise in unemployment had been predicted by the government and was partly due to seasonal unemployment. He also pointed out that the number of people in the labour market had increased by 172,000 in the first three months of 2008 and by 651,100 in 2007. This increase in those seeking employment was partly explained by the increasing numbers of women joining the workforce.

Nevertheless, figures give a more pessimistic outlook and compared to the previous quarter unemployment rose by 96,300 in the service sector, by 71,100 in the construction industry and by 27,800 in the industrial sector. On the other hand it went down by 2,300 in the agricultural sector.

The number of people who had been made redundant more than a year ago went up by 41,400 and unemployment among those seeking their first employment rose by 12,200.

Unemployment has gone up in 15 different regions, the highest rise was in Navarra (44,74%) followed by Cantabria (39.42%) and the Canary Islands (34.44%). In absolute terms, unemployment has risen by 39,000 in Catalonia, 38,700 in the Canary Islands and 37,500 in Andalucia while it has gone down in Extremadura by 1,900 and the Basque Country by 1,500.