EL PAIS (Spain), GUARDIAN (UK), REUTERS
MADRID – Good and bad news arrived Thursday as Europe continues its struggle to emerge from a five-year-long economic crisis.
Bad news first: Spain has again marked record-high unemployment figures, with a 27.2% jobless rate for the first quarter of 2013, the seventh straight quarter of rising jobless numbers.
The euro zone’s fourth-largest economy (and the world’s 12th largest) counts some 6.2 million people out of work, with youth employment rising to a staggering 57.2%, El Pais reported.
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Jose Luis Martinez, a strategist at Citi in Madrid, told Reuters: "These figures are worse than expected and highlight the serious situation of the Spanish economy as well as the shocking decoupling between the real and the financial economy.”
Protests against austerity measures and rights for the jobless were expected later Thursday in the Spanish capital. Here was a different take, however, on the continuing crisis, with one Spaniard declaring: “16.6 million people working in this country for the rest. #unemployment #EPA”
— Daniel Ampuero (@danielampuero) April 25, 2013
On a more positive note, Britain announced Thursday that its economy grew more than expected, expanding 0.3% in the first quarter. The data avoids a triple-dip recession. “Today's figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing," said George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Despite a tough economic backdrop, we are making progress. I can't promise the road ahead will always be smooth, but by continuing to confront our problems head on, Britain is recovering and we are building an economy fit for the future."
The Office for National Statistics said the numbers were boosted by services and manufacturing, but that the construction sector continued to struggle, with output down 2.5%.