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Spain's unemployment rate has hit a record high, the 4.6mn jobless is a rise of four per cent from December.

The first official figures released since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government took office last December, announced on Thursday, have hit the nation's youth the hardest - half of all people under 24-years-old are jobless.

The 22 per cent jobless rate in the eurozone's fourth largest economy, represents a rate nearly double the average in the 17-nation bloc and the highest since the National Statistics Institute started publishing monthly figures in 1996.

Data released by the National Statistics Institute also showed only 7.3% of all new contracts signed in January were permanent.

The 'generacion cero' - the zero generation - have turned to work abroad since the building boom of 2008 sunk the Iberian state into recession, and tripled the youth unemployment rate within four years.

With 1.5mn families still lacking a source of household income, there is fear that civil disobedience and crime rates will increase among the Spanish youth. Spain already has one of the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine usage among Western European youth.

Last year's 15-M or Indignants movement - a series of ongoing demonstrations against unemployment, welfare cuts, and political corruption - beginning prior to the local and regional elections last summer, was heavily youth-led.

Since then, the newly-elected government has already announced austerity plans and labour reforms, the proposed plans have already earned the criticism of the nation's powerful trade unions.

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