Spain has started 2012 firmly at the head of the jobless charts with double the EU average.
Employment and Social Security Ministry figures show that as at December 31 there were 4.42 million people unemployed in Spain, almost a third of a million (322,286) more than it started 2011 with.
This represents a year-on-year increase of 7.86 per cent taking the nation to its highest jobless number since comparable Ministry records began in 1996.
Jobless numbers increased in December by 1,897 people compared to the previous month.
Newly appointed Secretary of State for Employment Engracia Hidalgo said these figures “confirm the worsening economic situation” produced during the last three months of 2011.
Unemployment increased last year for both sexes, with a slightly larger rise (+8.1 per cent) among women than men (+7.6 per cent). With an annual rise of 240,590 people, or 10.1 per cent, Services was the worse affected sector in absolute terms.
In percentage terms, agriculture was worst hit, with a year-on-year rise of 15 per cent, due in part to the so-called ‘Killer Cucumber Crisis’ in May and June when an E.coli outbreak in Germany was blamed wrongly on Spanish cucumbers.
Meanwhile, 625,903 foreign residents were registered unemployed at the year end, 20,065 more than it started with.
Of these, fewer than a third (198,997) are from the EU.