Jobless Rate in Spain Hits Record High
Madrid, March 2 (RHC)-- Spain's jobless numbers shot to a new record high in February, according to government figures, as people struggled in vain to find work in the recession-bound economy. The number of job seekers surged 2.44 per cent from the previous month to 4.71 million people, according to the Spanish Labor Ministry report, which is based on the official unemployment register.
Under a labor market reform approved by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in February, maximum severance pay has been slashed to 33 days' salary for each year worked. Observers say this is down from 45 days, signifying a regression of 24 years in labor rights. The new measures also make it easier for companies to opt out of sector-wide or country-wide union collective wage agreements.
The government has made the labor market reform, along with steep spending cuts and a plan to clean up the country's banks, a cornerstone of its efforts to revive the economy. The Spanish economy, the Eurozone's fourth largest, shrank by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the government has warned that the drop will likely be steeper in the first quarter of this year.
There are now more than five million jobless workers in Spain and the country has witnessed increased protests by workers and students, demonstrating against new spending cuts which have hit education in particular.