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Spanish jobless near 3.5 million

THE number of people filing claims for jobless benefits in Spain jumped by 154,058 in February to a total of 3.48 million, as companies continued to lay off workers in droves amid the recession, the Labor Ministry said today.

The figure is a 4.6 percent rise from the previous month, the Ministry said.

In the 12 months to March 1, the number of people registering for benefits has increased by 1.2 million, a massive 50.4 percent.

The jobless claims figure is separate from the unemployment rate, which is released quarterly and stood at a European Union high of 13.9 percent at the end of 2008. The government has previously said it expects the jobless rate to reach 15.9 percent by the end of 2009.

Spain was one of Europe's economic success stories during the past decade but has recently seen its key construction industry collapse, a phenomenon exacerbated by the international financial crisis.


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