(TELEGRAPH) — Spain’s unemployment rate has jumped to nearly 24 percent in the fourth quarter, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said on Thursday, confirming that the country is still in the throes of a long and painful economic crisis.

Mr. Montoro told a parliamentary commission on Thursday that official figures due out Friday will show 5.4 million people were out of work at the end of December, up from 4.9 million in the third quarter, when the jobless rate was 21.5 percent.

Spain already has the highest unemployment rate in the 17-nation eurozone and is near its record of 24.5 percent unemployment, set in 1993.

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