THE number of unemployed in Spain reached a record high in December with 4.42 million registered as out of work, according to labour ministry figures.
The number is the highest since data began being collected in 1996 and is the fifth consecutive month where the figures have risen, up 0.04 per cent.
It follows the announcement that the Spanish deficit for 2011 could top eight per cent of GDP, significantly higher than the official government target of six per cent.
The government has moved to plug the gap, slashing spending by 8.9 billion euros and introducing six billion euros of tax rises.
Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said: “The figures for the number of registered unemployed for the month of December confirm the deterioration of the economic situation during the second half of the year.”