THE worst of the unemployment in the Balearic Islands caused by the recession is now behind us, regional Employment Minister Joana Barcelo said yesterday, but added that the effects of the crisis will be “felt for years”.

Barcelo was reporting on the monthly unemployment figures researched by her department. She claimed that the dole queue had shortened by 0.56 percent in January in comparison with December 2009 and that there are now officially 90'588 people in the labour market without a job. The real figure for those without work however, is closer to 112'000 as many unemployed have now chosen to opt out of a benefit system which they perceive as having failed them and have simply stopped signing on to Social Security.

The upturn last month, said Barcelo, means that the Balearics is the only region in the country where unemployment fell during January. The Balearics has apparently not had unemployment fall in the first month of the year since 2006 and for eight consecutive months now, the unemployment figures have been less than the corresponding month a year ago. But as a note of caution, Barcelo said that the region can't yet afford to rejoice because numbers of jobless may climb again in February.

Looking at the sectors of industry most affected by unemployment, Barcelo said that Services (including Tourism) and Construction remain the worst hit, but that there are signs of jobs being created in Education, Technology and in Social Care. She said that the most important current issues are not forecasting a date when the region will emerge from recession but rather to provide policies of training young people and the long-term unemployed to take up jobs in these emerging markets.