Spain's unemployment figure passed the five million mark in the last quarter of 2011, official figures show. The National Statistics Institute said 5.3 million people were out of work at the end of December, up from 4.9 million in the third quarter. The rate rose from 21.5% in the third quarter to 22.8% - the highest rate in nearly 17 years.
The new figures show more than half of all 16-24 year-olds are jobless - 51.4% compared to 45.8% before. Spain already has the highest jobless rate in the 17-nation eurozone and is expected to slide back into recession. The figure is below the 5.4 million estimated by the Spanish finance minister on Thursday.
Spain's new ruling Popular Party conservative government has pledged labour reforms to try to halt further unemployment. On Thursday, public service employees staged a series of demonstrations across Spain to protest against unemployment and increasing austerity measures.