THE Balearic government struggled to put some positive spin on the latest unemployment figures yesterday.
While the number of people out of work last month shot up by 10.6 percent with 8'118 jobs being lost in comparison to September, the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, proclaimed that the Balearics is where unemployment has risen the least in Spain since the start of the year.
Antich was not wrong but he was not fooling anyone with the opposition Partido Popular hitting out claiming that the runaway rate of unemployment is a prime example of Antich's minority coalition inability to govern.
It was the service sector, which the Balearic Minister for Finance Carles Manera was only championing 24 hours earlier as the saviour of the Balearic economy in the later half of this year and in the coming 12 months, where the bulk of the jobs were lost as hotels and resorts close up for the winter.
The official number of registered unemployed now stands at 84'761 but, as the Active Population Report revealed last week, in reality the figure is much higher because many people have either lost their right to claim any more dole or have signed off in order to seek other ways of making a living.
The unions claim there could be as many as 125'000 out of work this Christmas. But, it was not only in the Balearics where jobless figures jumped.
Unemployment queues across Spain, which has the highest jobless rate in the European Union, rose for the third month running in October, the labour ministry in Madrid said yesterday.
In October alone, the number registered as unemployed grew by 68'213 people, or 1.7 percent, from the total in September to 4'085.976, it said in a statement. Compared with the total 12 months ago, the figure was up 7.3 percent, or by 277'623.
Construction was the only sector in which unemployment declined in October, falling 0.4 percent over the previous month.
COLLAPSE OF PROPERTY BUBBLE
The Spanish economy emerged from the recession it entered during the second-half of 2008 due to the collapse of a property bubble with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second.
The labour ministry does not provide a jobless rate, but the National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry method, said on Friday that the rate had dropped to 19.79 percent in the third quarter from 20.09 percent in the second. LONG AND HARD ROAD AHEAD It was the first drop in the unemployment rate since it dipped to 7.95 percent in second quarter of 2007, its lowest level since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator Franscisco Franco in 1975.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the dip in the jobless rate in the third quarter positive but warned that we have a long and hard road ahead to turn the employment situation around and reduce unemployment. Last month his socialist government raised its forecast for the jobless rate for next year to 19.3 percent from a previous estimate of 18.9 percent, nearly double the European average.
It predicts the jobless rate will dip to 17.5 percent in 2012 and 16.2 percent in 2013.