Labor Markets in Flux
Spanish Youth Part of the Lost Generation
By Katharina Peters in Madrid
At almost 20 percent, Spain suffers the second-highest unemployment rate in the European Union. But the rate for those just entering the job market is twice as high. This month, Madrid wants to push through far-reaching labor market reforms. But opposition promises to be fierce.
In the end, Sonsoles García had to postpone her wedding. She had planned a huge celebration for the summer of 2009, one made possible in part by a promotion she had received at work. But then she lost her job and before she knew it, García, 28, was the latest to join Spain's swelling ranks of the unemployed.
On a recent Friday, she waited for an hour and a half in line at an unemployment office in the Madrid quarter of Moratalaz -- only to discover that she was ineligible for further benefits. The air was stale and stuffy in the overcrowded room. The old, the young, Spanish citizens and immigrants -- all are waiting to speak with their case workers.
At roughly 20 percent, Spain's unemployment rate is second only to Latvia in the European Union. And the hardest hit has been the nation's youth. Among Spaniards under 25 years of age, fully 40 percent are jobless -- a rate twice what it was a mere two years ago. It is, say some, a generation that has been knocked off its feet by the economic crisis. Others say they are merely lazy.
One thing, however, is sure: It has become Spain's lost generation. more