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FIVE MILLION left jobless in Spain

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Unemployment in Spain has hit a record high of five million people after a rise in the jobless total. The Labor Ministry said that the number of people unemployed last month had jumped by 59,444 compared with January taking the total to 5.04 million. Spain is Europe's fourth largest economy. Current jobless levels are the highest since the 1970s.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Spain has been struggling to emerge from its second recession in just over three years. The collapse of its once booming real estate factor is the chief reason for the current economic malaise. 

The Spanish economy first fell into recession in the second half of 2008, with millions of jobs lost after tough austerity measures put in place. The nation then plunged into its second recession since 2009 at the end of 2011, after a housing bubble burst, leaving millions of low-skilled laborers out of work.

Efforts by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government to control one of the eurozone's largest deficits through spending cuts and tax hikes have fueled general unease, further hampering demand. When Rajoy took office in late 2011, there were 5.27 million jobless in Spain.

The year-old conservative government, trying desperately to reduce a swollen deficit and avoid a bailout have brought major financial and labor reforms and applied severe cutbacks in wages and spending - to little effect. The Spanish economy has shown few signs of recovery.

The austerity measures aimed at lowering the deficit are having a negative effect on the economy in the short-term. Reforms will only help growth in the longer-term.  In short; the economy will suffer more before it recovers.

The European economy has also been rocked by a downturn in factory output as hopes of recovery were dealt another damaging setback this past weekend.

Gloomy figures showed British manufacturers suffered a decline in activity last month, which was the first since November while factory output in the eurozone fell for a 19th month in a row last month as a dire performance in France offset a return to growth in Germany.

A separate report showed unemployment hit a record high of 11.9 per cent in the single currency bloc in January.

The slump in manufacturing and rise in unemployment to 19 million , up 1.9 million since January 2012 - rounded off a dismal week for the eurozone as the political deadlock in Italy threatened to plunge the region deeper into crisis.

"The overall picture is consistent with a eurozone economy that is still stuck in recession," Lee Hardman, currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi said. 

Research group Markit said its index of activity in U.K. manufacturing - where 50 is the cut off between growth and decline - sank from 50.5 in January to 47.9 in February. It left Britain on the brink of a third recession in five years after the economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2012.

Chief economist at Markit Chris Williamson says that this "represents a major setback to hopes that the UK economy can return to growth in the first quarter and avoid a triple-dip recession."

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