Unemployment in Spain reaches 4.7 million

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The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Spain rose by 112,269 in January, taking the overall figure to 4.7 million.

Spain’s unemployment rate stands at 22.9 per cent, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

The Spanish economy posted negative growth in the fourth quarter of last year and is expected to enter recession this quarter.

The new right-leaning Popular Party government has introduced a series of reforms in a desperate attempt to shake up the economy but it acknowledges that unemployment is likely to continue rising throughout this year.

The employment ministry said the total number claiming benefits was up by more than 400,000 from February last year.

Spain’s Prime Minister says the country will miss its deficit goal for this year, risking sanctions from the European Union.

Mariano Rajoy said the government deficit will reach 5.8 per cent of economic output this year, much higher than the 4.4 per cent Madrid had promised to the other EU states. However, he said Spain still aims to cuts its deficit to 3 per cent in 2013.