Spain jobless rate surges to 20.33 percent

MADRID (AFP) – Spain announced Friday its jobless rate surged to a 13-year record above 20 percent at the end of 2010, the highest level in the industrialised world, as the economy gasped for air.

It was more bad news for an economy fighting to regain the trust of financial markets and avoid being trapped in a debt quagmire that has engulfed Greece and Ireland and now menaces Portugal.

Another 121,900 people joined Spain’s unemployment queues in the final quarter of the year, pushing the total to 4.697 million people, said the national statistics institute INE.

The resulting unemployment rate was 20.33 percent for the end of the year — easily exceeding Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s target of 19.4 percent.

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