UNEMPLOYMENT figures for the Balearics rose by a worrying 15'500 people in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 48 percent in respect of the previous quarter.

According to a survey published yesterday by the National Institute of Statistics, this increase is the highest in the country and well above the national average which stands at 2.51 percent.

At the other end of the scale, the Canaries was the region of Spain with the sharpest drop in unemployment figures (10'800 less), while the most notable increases in terms of numbers were witnesed in Andalucia (17'700), the Balearics (15'500) and Galicia (10'200).

Looking at the current unemployment figures as they stand, the Balearics lays claim to 47'800 people out of work. This figure is 9.15 percent of the working population, higher in fact than the national average of 8.47 percent unemployed.

It´s not all doom and gloom however, because the number of people who have found themselves jobs in the Balearics has increased by 17'900 people, a figure which represents a year-on-year increase of 3.92 percent, which is greater than the national average of 3.45 percent.

Breaking down the figures further, between the months of January and March, the number of people employed in the Balearics fell by 16'700 people compared to the previous quarter - a fall of 3.41 percent, whilst looking at the country collectively, there was a rise of 0.34 percent. At the end of March, the number of people with jobs in the Balearics stood at 474'800.

The number of people actively able to work in the Balearics fell between January and March by 1'200 people in the Balearics to stand at 522'600. This figure represents a drop of 0.23 percent with respect to the previous quarter. Over the last twelve months, the number of people actively able to work increased by 23'400 people, some 4.69 percent, well above the national average of 2.76 percent. Thus the percentage of people actively engaged in employment in the Balearics stands at 61.69 percent, three points above the national average of 58.58 percent.

Analysed by gender, 7.88 percent of men in the Balearic Islands actively able to work are claiming unemployment benefit and 10.90 percent of women. Seen in a positive light, more than 72 percent of the male working population is actively employed in the Balearics, considerably higher than the figure for their female counterparts which is only 51.9 percent.

In purely numerical terms, the number of employed men in the Islands stands at some 279'000 but at only 195'800 in the case of women.
Looking at the country as a whole, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose during the first quarter of 2007 by 45'500 people, a 2.5 percent increase on the previous quarter. Over the past twelve months across Spain as a whole, the number of people who have come off the dole stands at 79'700 (-4.1%) while the number who have been able to engage in active employment rose by 669'100 representing a year-on-year increase of 3.45 percent.