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Spaniards struggling to make ends meet: survey

Source: Reuters - Thu 20th Oct 2011

More than a quarter of Spaniards have difficulty making ends meet each month, while almost 36% say they have no leeway for unexpected bills, a survey published by national statistics institute INE showed on Thursday.

With unemployment at 21%, the highest in the European Union, as Spain struggles under the effect of a burst housing bubble and towering private debt.

The poll shows just how stretched some families are as Spain, with unemployment at 21%, the highest in the European Union, struggles under the effect of a burst housing bubble and towering private debt. However, it also shows a slight improvement in some measures of living standards from last year.

"These data are indicative but they are not necessarily mathematically certain, because after all it's a survey," said Juan Carlos Martinez, economist at IE Business School in Madrid.

"More than 70% of those who are unemployed get some kind of (state) benefit and then if you look at Spain's social structure, there is a deep level of family support for those not working, so the situation isn't as bad as the numbers make it look," he said.

Attempting to fight off market concerns that it could be the next indebted euro zone country to need a bailout, Spain, the euro zone's fourth-biggest economy, has slashed public spending to bring down its public deficit.

Those with difficulty making ends meet on a monthly basis fell to 26.1% in the March to June 2011 survey, versus around 30% in 2009 and 2010 and roughly the same rate as in 2007, according to the INE poll.

Average annual household revenue fell 4.4% to 24,890 euros from a year earlier, while 22% of households live below the poverty line.

The poll also showed that 32% of households have mortgage debt, while almost half of Spanish families own mortgage-free property.

The opposition right-leaning People's Party is expected to win by a landslide in a general election next month as the electorate punishes the ruling Socialists on the perception that it has mishandled the debt crisis and is responsible for the high unemployment rate.

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