Almost one-quarter of all Spanish workers are unemployed right now, with no sign that nation's economy will get better any time soon. The 24.4 percent unemployment rate released on Friday is the highest in the Eurozone and the highest number ever reported in Spain since the current measurement series began in 1996. That's more than 5,600,000 people out of work (in a country of 46 million), a rise of 1.5 percent since the start of the year. Even more stunning is that fact that there are 1.7 million households where no one living there has a job.
The country also got more bad news when ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded their credit rating to BBB+ (not as good a grade as it sounds) and added a negative outlook for good measure. Public debt is on the rise, incomes are falling, banks are being crushed under the weight of bad loans, and the government is running out of spending programs to cut. Their economy needs to starting growing again, and fast, but like most of the struggling Eurozone countries, Spain is sticking with its austerity measures — despite little evidence that it's actually helping.
While Americans weep (or rejoice) or a few tenths of a percentage point in our unemployment rate, it's hard to imagine the struggles facing a country where that number is three times higher and the hopes for a turnaround appear to be far fewer. As this global crisis continues to drag on with no end in sight (the unemployment rate for people under 25 is an unthinkable 52 percent) the pessimism is becoming overwhelming.