Spain announced Friday its jobless rate surged to a 13-year record above 20 percent at the end of 2010, the highest level in the industrialized world, as the economy struggled for air.
It was more bad news for an economy fighting to regain the trust of financial markets and avoid being trapped in a debt quagmire that has engulfed Greece and Ireland and now menaces Portugal.
Another 121,900 people joined Spain's unemployment queues in the final quarter of the year, pushing the total to 4.697 million people, said the national statistics institute INE.
The resulting unemployment rate was 20.33 percent for the end of the year -- easily exceeding Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's target of 19.4 percent.
Spain appears to be stuck in a rut of staggeringly high levels of unemployment.
It goes without saying that Spain's financial problems cannot be entirely laid at the feet of one Prime Minister, and that many forces are at play in the European sovereign debt crisis. Still, it is an inescapable reality that Spain's governmental policies have been driven by hard-Left socialists for more than half a decade. It's impossible to prove how Prime Minister Aznar's free market government would have performed during this turbulent time, but it's pretty clear that things couldn't be much worse.