The number of people out of work in Spain has risen to more than 5 million people for the first time. The government in Madrid said there was no quick fix, with the economy expected to contract further this year.
Registered unemployment in Spain surpassed the five-million mark in February, the country's Labor Ministry said Monday.
It said joblessness now affected 5.04 million people, up some 59,000 from the levels recorded in January. The ministry said many companies across the southern European nation continued to lay off staff because of unfavorable business prospects.
The February figures marked Spain's highest number of people out of work since the country became a democracy in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco.
The fourth-largest economy of the 17-member eurozone logged the largest loss of jobs in the dominant service sector, followed by layoffs in industry and agriculture.
Spain has been reeling from the bursting of a real-estate bubble in 2008, necessitating a bailout of the ailing banking sector. The conservative government of Mariano Rajoy had put in place painful spending cuts and tax rises aimed at saving 150 billion euros ($195 billion) between 2012 and 2014.
The cuts have not proven to be able to kick-start the economy which Madrid expects to contract by 0.5 percent this year, to be followed by an expansion of 1.2 percent in 2014.
hg/ipj (Reuters, AFP)