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FT: [The size of the Spanish black economy] helps to explain one of the more embarrassing economic mysteries of modern Spanish society: an extraordinarily high rate of official unemployment without much of the civil unrest and popular anger that such a problem would normally generate. If it were true that 4.9m people, or more than 21 per cent of the workforce, were jobless, Spain would not be as peaceful as, barring a few demonstrations, it has so far been, say economists and business leaders.

It is an open secret that the Spanish jobless rate – double the European average – is a fiction. Hundreds of thousands of people claim unemployment benefit when they actually have some kind of work; millions are not registered as working, which means that neither they nor their employers are paying social security contributions. One proof, say employers, is that when unemployment fell to 8.5 per cent at the height of the boom in 2006-07, they could find no workers to hire. Yet that figure, the recent Spanish minimum, is high enough that it would be associated with a deep economic recession in almost any other industrialised country. [Story]

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