For once, when surveyed on a nationwide scale, the Spanish population’s biggest worry is no longer local, separatist terrorism. The biggest worry for the average Spaniard is now the country’s financial situation. As one newspaper puts it, “El paro ‘quita el sueño’ al 75,2% de los españoles” – The fear of unemployment keeps 75% of Spaniards awake at night.
And well they might worry. As the unemployment figures creep towards 4 million, some say things will get as bad as 5 million unemployed by the end of the year, accounting for an unprecedented 20% of the working population.
Madrid keeps it’s head held high, it’s economics based largely on wealthy service industries, but the situation on the Mediterranean coasts must be going downhill quickly. Where once there were always new houses to be built, equipped and furnished, now there are no more eager buyers, and nothing to be built.
The question is, for a country that has experienced and enjoyed exceptional growth and prosperity over the last 10 years, what might a Spain with 5 million unemployed workers soon look like? And can anything be done?