Spain Registered Unemployment Resumes Rise Amid Deepening Slump

Spain’s registered unemployment rose in January as a fifth year of economic downturn left the country with a third of the euro-area’s jobless.

The number of people registering for jobless benefits rose by 132,055 from December to 4.98 million, the Labor Ministry in Madrid said today. Spain’s unemployment rate reached a record 26 percent, the statistics agency reported on Jan. 24.

Companies in the euro area’s fourth-largest economy are using new labor rules to reduce costs as the deepest austerity measures in the nation’s democratic history undermine demand. Building-material producer Cementos Portland Valderrivas SA is firing staff, while retailers such as Carrefour, El Corte Ingles and Ikea are talking with unions to cut wages and increase working hours.

Economists forecast unemployment will continue to rise this year and the International Monetary Fund predicts a 1.5 percent economic contraction. Exports fell in November from a year ago and the number of tourists visiting in December declined as the only drivers left for Spanish economic activity weakened amid a European slowdown.

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