Spain is “emerging from the crisis,” says labor minister

Comments come on heels of jobless rate moving above 25 percent for first time on record

Labor Minister Fátima Báñez, pictured on Monday.
Labor Minister Fátima Báñez, pictured on Monday.Paco Campos / EFE

Labor Minister Fátima Báñez on Monday claimed Spain is “emerging from the crisis,” insisting that her words were not the product of “empty optimism.”

Báñez’s comments were made just three days after the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported that one out of every four workers in Spain was out of a job in the third quarter, the first time on record that this has happened. Over 5.7 million people are unemployed in the country.

The economy contracted for the fifth quarter in a row in the period July-September, with GDP expected to shrink 1.5 percent this year, with the recession forecast to extend into 2013.

“We have a future and we’re going to come out of this stronger,” the minister said. She based her optimism on the reforms being undertaken by the government, and the fact that Spain has an internationalized and diverse economy, with a modern tourist industry and a pool of well-educated young people.

Báñez said the labor reform approved by the government in February, making it cheaper and easier to sack workers, “is helping many companies to overcome the crisis,” due to the greater internal flexibility the makeover affords. The INE’s Active Population Survey (EPA) released on Friday showed a strong fall in permanent jobs since the reform was introduced.

“Employment is not created by wasting public money,” Báñez said. Minutes before she delivered her comments, she was confronted by a group of employees at her own ministry who jeered at her, holding up banners with expressions such as “This is not a crisis, this is a rip-off.”

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