Unemployment is a worldwide problem but in Spain it is higher than in other Western European countries. Unemployment fell to 8% between 2006 and 2007 but from the Spanish economic crisis of 2008 the rate quickly rose past 20% in 2010 and 25% in 2012. Unemployment in some regions of Spain is slightly less than in others, but it tends to be one of the highest in the European Union whatever the state of the economy.
Spain suffers a high level of structural unemployment. From the economic and financial crisis of the 1980s, unemployment has never dipped below 8%. Spain is the OECD country with the highest unemployment rate, ahead of Ireland and Greece. The main causes are an economy based mostly on tourism and building sectors, and lack of industry. The most industrialized region is Basque Country (where industry is around 20–25% of its GDP); its unemployment rate is 2.5 times lower than those of Andalusia and Canary Islands (where industry is only 5–10% of their respective GDP). In the last thirty years the Spanish unemployment rate has hovered around double the average of developed countries, both in times of growth as in crisis. From the start of the crisis of the 1990s, unemployment fell from 3.6 million to two million, but that figure stagnated throughout the good times to the present crisis.
Unemployment reduces household income and therefore domestic consumption and quality of life. The mental health of the unemployed and their families deteriorates. The emancipation period is extended and therefore the birth rate decreases as it is difficult to start a family with minimal economic guarantees. Social exclusion is triggered, evictions increase, and families start to default on bills for basic utilities such as water, electricity and gas, leading to energy poverty.
The dramatic unemployment in Spain and its consequence make the headlines in Spain and internationally.