MADRID, April 16, 2011 (AFP) - The number of unemployed in Spain, which has the highest jobless rate among developed countries, could reach a record of more than five million, the labour minister warned in an interview published Saturday.
"Whether or not we exceed five million unemployed will depend on the active population," Valeriano Gomez told the business daily el Economista, referring to a possible rise in the working-age population.
"It must be said that in Spain during the crisis, the workforce has been very erratic."
Spain’s booming construction industry drew millions of unskilled immigrant workers and generated high levels of economic growth in the decade to 2008.
But the collapse of the property bubble, compounded by the global financial crisis, left many people out of work, especially immigrants and youths.
The unemployment rate soared to 20.33 percent at the end of 2010, the highest in the industrialised world.
The government this month revised upwards its forecast for 2011 to 19.8 percent from 19.3 percent, but said the rate will ease to 18.5 percent in 2012.
The labour ministry said on April 4 that the number of Spaniards out of work rose for a third consecutive month in March, up 0.8 percent from February to 4.33 million for the highest level since records began in 1996.