Unemployment hits record high in Spain

Jobless rate is twice the average for the rest of the EU, with young people particularly badly affected, new data show.

    Spain's unemployment rate has hit a record high, the 4.6 million jobless figure being a rise of four per cent from December.

    The first official figures released since Mariano Rajoy's conservative government took office last December, announced on Thursday, depict the nation's youth as the the hardest hit group: half of all people under 24-years-old are jobless.

    The 22 per cent jobless rate in the eurozone's fourth largest economy represents a rate nearly double the average in the 17-nation bloc and the highest since the National Statistics Institute, started publishing monthly figures in 1996.

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    Data released by the National Statistics Institute also showed only 7.3 per cent of all new contracts signed in January were permanent.

    The generacion cero - the zero generation - have turned to work abroad since the building boom of 2008 sunk the Iberian state into recession, and tripled the youth unemployment rate within four years.

    With 1.5 million families still lacking a source of household income, there is fear that civil disobedience and crime rates will increase among the Spanish youth.

    Spain already has one of the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine usage among western European youth.

    Last year's "Indignant" movement - also referred to as the 15-M Movement - a series of ongoing demonstrations against unemployment, welfare cuts, and political corruption - beginning prior to the local and regional elections last summer, was heavily youth-led.

    Since then, the Rajoy government has announced austerity plans and labour reforms. The proposals have already earned the criticism of the nation's powerful trade unions.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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