Spain‘s jobless rate has risen over 20 percent for the first time since 1997, the government said Friday — more dismal news for a recession-plagued economy that is being dragged into Europe’s debt crisis.
The National Statistics Institute said the rate rose 1.22 percentage points in the first quarter to 20.05 percent.
While other major economies in Europe and elsewhere have posted at least tepid growth as they crawl out of recession, the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy is still contracting after the collapse of a construction boom that had fueled years of expansion.
The agency said at the end of March, there were over 4.6 million people out of work in the country. The jobless rate is the highest since the last quarter of 1997, when it stood at 20.11 percent.
Since Spain slipped into recession in 2008, the rate has roughly doubled, a dramatic development for a country that had been one of Europe’s top job-creators.
Read More: -By Daniel Woolls, the Associated Press