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Spanish jobless registers biggest ever monthly rise

SPAIN'S registered jobless leapt a record 198,838 people in January, the tenth straight month of increase and the biggest monthly rise on record, as the global credit crisis wrought havoc in the economy, government data showed today.

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 workforce, 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 in a statement.

Spain's services sector was the hardest hit, registering a loss of 136,610 jobs, followed by industry which shed 31,276 posts and construction 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.

"It's going to get much, much worse. The first and second quarters are probably going to be really bad. In the last stages of last year it was mostly people from the construction sector but now it's pretty much spreading to the services sector," said Jose Garcia Zarate at the 4Cast consultancy.

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


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