Spain's unemployment rate hit 18.8 percent at the end of 2009, with more than a million jobs lost over the year as recession ravaged an economy that had once been one of Europe's best performers, statistics showed Friday.
The ranks of Spain's jobless totaled a record 4,326,500, the National Statistics Institute said.
The new unemployment rate is nearly a full point higher than the 17.9 percent figure posted at the close of the third quarter of 2009, and nearly five points higher than a year earlier, grim evidence of the impact of a downturn triggered in large part by the collapse of a real estate bubble.
In the fourth quarter alone, just over 203,000 people lost their jobs.
Unemployment swept across all parts of the economy in 2009 — agriculture, industry, the services sector and construction.
Spain's economy has posted five straight quarters of negative growth and remains one of few in the eurozone to remain in recession.
The economy has been shrinking since the third quarter of 2008 as a boom fueled by torrid real estate construction and credit-fueled consumer spending collapsed.
The government has injected billions of euros (dollars) into the economy in job-creating public works and other projects.
Along with increased outlays for unemployment benefits, this has caused the government's budget deficit to soar.
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