Since the financial crisis, many countries in Europe, especially Spain and Greece, have been plagued by severe unemployment, far worse than anything experienced in the United States. Whereas U.S. unemployment never rose above 9.9 percent, even in the depths of the recession, and is just 6.1 percent today, Spain's unemployment rate rose to 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013 after government austerity that was intended to calm the economy backfired disastrously.
But now — after nearly six years of economic disaster, during which time hundreds of thousands have had to go abroad to seek employment — Spanish unemployment is falling, down to 24.5 percent this month. That's an improvement, but it mainly underlines just how bad things got in Spain, and just how much further it has to go before its economy recovers. At the current rate of job creation, in which 402,000 jobs were created in the first quarter, it would still take over three years to create enough jobs for Spain's 5.6 million unemployed.
And with other eurozone economies faltering — including France, where unemployment is on the rise — there is absolutely no guarantee that Spain's current rate of job creation can be sustained. A European economic recovery remains elusive.