Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spain's government has defended a plan to fight soaring unemployment by shutting the door on foreign workers

The Socialist government has been under fire from unions, immigrant advocacy groups and opposition parties since the labor minister announced that the number of work visas granted abroad to people eager to take low-skill jobs in Spain "will get close to zero". The minister, Celestino Corbacho, said on that it did not make sense to keep recruiting workers in other countries when Spain has 2.5 million people unemployed, 500,000 more than in August 2007, largely as a result of a collapse in the construction industry. Spain's population of 45 million is now about 10% immigrant - compared to an insignificant proportion a decade ago - largely from Latin America, North Africa and eastern Europe. Spain's economy has all but stagnated in less than a year, and gone from being one of the EU's top job-creators to having its highest jobless rate - 10.7%, according to Eurostat, the bloc's statistical agency.

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