By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Balearics suffered the sharpest rise in unemployment in Spain last month with 7'288 people losing their jobs, pushing the number of people out of work up by 8.6 percent compared to October.

According to the latest data from the Ministry for Employment, the number of people registered as unemployed in the Balearics currently stands at 92'049 but, as recent figures relating to the active population, the real figure is well over 100'000 and could hit 125'000 by the end of this month, according to the unions.

Union bosses have repeatedly explained that the unemployment figures do not reflect the reality of the critical situation because a large number of people are either no longer entitled to unemployment benefit or have signed off in order to find alternative means of making a living.

Facing a wave of criticism from the opposition Partido Popular and the unions for failing to shore up and stimulate the local economy and encourage job creation, the Balearic Minister for Tourism and Employment, Joana Barcelo, claimed that the latest figures suggest that the situation is beginning to “stabilise”.

As far as Barcelo and the government is concerned, the rate of rise in the unemployment is starting to slow and that more positive figures are expected early next year.

The Minister said that this year's rise in unemployment for the months of October and November is nearly 12 percent lower than for the same period last year and 44 percent less than in 2008.

What is more, year-on-year, between November 2000 and November 2010, the increase in unemployment has been 2.3 percent, much lower than the national average of 6.2 percent.

Nevertheless, she admitted that the situation continues to be “difficult” and that any recuperation in the employment market is going to be slow.
And it was not just the Balearics where unemployment rose, it jumped across the country.
Unemployment queues in Spain, which has the highest jobless rate in the European Union, rose for the fourth month running in November.
There were 4.085 million people registered as jobless in November, up 24'318 from the previous month, it said in a statement. Compared with the total 12 months ago, the figure was up 6.24 percent, or 241'348.

The government in Madrid, just like here in the Balearics, sought to downplay the data by saying “it was the weakest (monthly) increase in unemployment in 12 years. Every increase in unemployment news is not positive, so we must continue to work” to achieve a decline, Secretary of State for Employment Mari Luz Rodriguez said. But the November increase “can be explained by a normalisation of our job market.” The government does not provide a jobless rate, but the National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry, said on October 29 that the rate had dropped to 19.79 percent in the third quarter from 20.09 percent in the second.

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