Spanish unemployment rises to 16.3% amid pandemic

 Spain says 355,000 more people were left unemployed in the third quarter, bringing the total jobless rate up to 16.3% from 15.3% in the previous three-month period as surging infections and new virus restrictions hurt economic development.

The National Statistics Institute said Tuesday the total number of people out of work now in Spain stood at 3.7 million.

Some 1 million people lost their jobs in the second quarter as the effects of lockdowns during the first virus wave crippled the economy. Many thousands of people are also on temporary furlough schemes paid by the government.

Spain was only just beginning to relish a recovery from the severe 2008-2013 financial crisis when the pandemic struck this year.

The government earlier this month unveiled plans to spend 140 billion euros ($162 billion) of European Union aid to reshape the economy, with the aim of creating 800,000 jobs over the next three years.

The Spanish government expects the country’s economy to contract 11.2% this year. In some sectors, such as tourism, the drop could be as much as 25%. Officials predict an unemployment rate of around 17% this year and next.

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