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Spain jobless rate hits new record

 
 
 
 
 
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People wait in line at a government employment office in Madrid, Spain.

Official data show that the unemployment rate in Spain climbed to a new record of 27.16 percent of the workforce in the first quarter of 2013.

According to new figures released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute on Thursday, the total number of unemployed people in the country has passed the six million mark, reaching to 6.2 million.

Spain is in the grip of a double dip recession, which has driven its unemployment rate to 55 percent among those aged 16 to 24.

The country’s economy shrank by 1.37 percent in 2012, which is considered the second worst annual slump since 1970.

The Spanish government has predicted that the economy would contract again by between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent in 2013.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Wednesday that the job situation for the whole year “will not be good, but it will be less bad than in the preceding years.”

Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking millions of jobs with it.

Spain must lower its deficit to 4.5 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent in 2014. Many economists, however, say those targets will be difficult to meet amid poor prospects for Spain’s economic recovery.

The Spanish government has also been sharply criticized over its austerity measures that are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.

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