By H. Carter/Nigel Davies

PALMA AND MADRID
THE National Statistic Institute accidentally posted the latest unemployment figures briefly on its website on Monday and the figures do not make good treading for neither the Balearics nor Spain.

The latest data shows that the rate of unemployment in the Balearics has risen to 22.4 percent during the first quarter of this year, 2.4 percent above the national average and the fifth highest in the country.

The Balearic rate of unemployment is currently 2.6 percent above figures for the first quarter of last year with the current number of people out of work in region at 110'800, according to the leaked figures.

The Balearic government had been talking of a complete reversal in unemployment with the tourist season looming and signs of an eventual pick up in the economy, but these latest figures will come a heavy blow to the region's efforts to claw its way out of the recession, not to mention those desperate to get back to work.

The data also revealed that Spanish unemployment in the first quarter of this year surged to a record high over 20 percent, according to a premature data release, although the National Statistics Institute said this might not be the final figure.

Newspaper reported that unemployment hit 20.05 percent in the first three months of the year, leaving 4.61 million unemployed.
The paper said the figures were the official data, to be published on Friday, accidentally posted on the National Statistics Institute website for a few minutes on Monday.

Economists had forecast a 19.6 percent unemployment rate in a Reuters survey.

EURO ZONE HIGH
Euro zone unemployment stood at 10.0 percent in February.
The jobless rate is the highest in the euro zone and underlines the difficulties Spain's economy faces in returning to growth after its worst recession in decades following the bursting of a property boom.

Unlike most of Europe, it has still not emerged from recession. “The figure is above the government's average (forecast) for the whole year. Unemployment is the biggest problem that Spain faces,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Ocana at a press conference delivering Spain's budget deficit data for March.

The government forecast unemployment to peak this year at 19 percent.
Analysts have said a significant rise in unemployment above 20 percent could force the government to spend more on benefits and is likely to make recovery harder because of lower consumer spending.