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Record rise in Spain's jobless

SPAIN'S registered jobless leaped a record 198,838 people in January, the 10th straight monthly rise and the biggest on record, government figures showed yesterday.

That took the total number of jobless to 3.33 million, the highest in records going back to 1996 and close to the level of 3.49 million in Germany, Europe's biggest economy with nearly twice the population of Spain.

Since January last year, the number of Spanish jobless has risen by 1.06 million people, or 47 percent, as thousands of small businesses, which employ around 80 percent of the work force, ran out of credit and customers. "We continue to be affected by the serious international financial crisis, the lack of liquidity and the fall in consumer spending," Employment Secretary Maravillas Rojo said.

Spain's services sector was hardest hit, registering a loss of 136,610 jobs, followed by the industrial sector, which shed 31,276 posts, and the construction sector with 17,175 losses. That was a reversal of past months when construction drove joblessness and showed Spain's economic crisis had spread far from its 2007 roots in the collapse of a decade-long housing and real estate boom.

In percentage terms, Spanish unemployment rose to 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the highest rate in the European Union. Most analysts see that rate rising to around 19 percent in 2010.


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