Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) says the country’s population is shrinking at an accelerating pace amid soaring unemployment.
The INE said on Tuesday that nearly 260,000 people moved from the crisis-hit country in the first half of 2013, while only 134,312 migrated to the country.
This left a loss of 125,688 residents on balance, which was 50 percent more than the number registered in the second half of 2012.
Nearly 40,000 of those who emigrated from the country were Spaniards, while the remaining were foreigners who returned to their home countries.
Spain’s soaring unemployment rate has driven young professionals and lower-qualified workers to seek jobs in other European countries as well as in Latin America.
The country’s official jobless percentage rate hit over 26 percent in the second quarter of 2013.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Spain would face five more years with a jobless rate of over 25 percent, unless the government implements new reforms including measures to assist firms in slashing wages instead of cutting staff.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking millions of jobs with it.
The Spanish government has been sharply criticized over its austerity measures that are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.
Europe’s main human rights watchdog has warned that Spain’s austerity program could have a devastating impact on children, as cuts have increased child poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate housing.
According to a report published in October, the number of Spaniards living in severe poverty has doubled to around 3 million since the economic crisis erupted.
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