The National Statistics Institute has released figures showing that 5.3 million people were out of work in Spain at the end of December 2011, up from 4.9 million at the end of the third quarter.
This sets a 17 year high for unemployment in Spain with 22.8% of the population out of work. This is more than double the average across the 17 members of the Euro zone, which stood at 10.3% in November, according to the report.
Furthermore, the figures show an alarming rate of unemployment for the younger generation with almost half of all 16-24 year-olds being jobless – 48.6% now, compared with 45.8% in December.
Men are faring slightly better than their female counterparts with male unemployment increasing to 22.46%, whilst 23.32% of females are unemployed.
Some sectors did show a decrease in unemployment. In Agriculture, for example, there were 42,300 fewer unemployed and, surprisingly, the construction industry also saw a small decrease with 2,900 fewer people losing their jobs.
New conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy has pledged action from his government to improve the job market but he isn’t working fast enough for some people. A number of public service employees held a series of demonstrations across Spain earlier this week to protest against unemployment and the governments austerity measures.
The situation with rising unemployment is a bit of a catch-22 for Mariano Rajoy’s administration. As more people register to receive benefits the governments bill increases and fewer people in work means fewer people paying income tax, so less revenue is generated. Add this to the fact that fewer earners means fewer spenders and the economy seems sure to head back into recession.