* Spain jobless dips 1.2 pct in December on Christmas hiring
* German jobless rises in December but holds near lows
* Economists say German data proves labour market resilience
* Spain still not committed to hiring in weak economy
By Tracy Rucinski and Sarah Marsh
MADRID/BERLIN, Jan 3 Anyone needing a New Year
reminder of the divide that has been threatening to tear apart
the 17-nation euro zone need only look at Thursday's German and
Spanish jobs data.
To the north, work. To the south, unemployment.
The number of Germans out of work actually rose for the
ninth month running in December, reflecting some of the strains
of the euro zone debt crisis on Europe's largest economy.
And Mediterranean Spain's official tally of those out of
work fell in the month.
But both figures are belied by other factors.
Germany's jobless number, for all its recent rises, remains
close to a post-reunification low. Spain's improvement was based
almost entirely on temporary holiday jobs. Around one-in-four
Spaniards are out of work.
The outlook for 2013 from analysts is jobs growth in Germany
and further joblessness in Spain.
The labour success in Germany - unemployment rate around 6.8
percent - is partially thanks to years of wage restraint and
structural reforms undertaken in the mid-2000s.
Spain, the euro zone's fourth largest economy, only passed a
labour reform in February 2012, under European Union pressure to
meet budget deficit targets.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's jobs reform has
shaken up working regulations to make it easier to fire people,
leading to massive lay-offs at big companies like media group
Prisa and expected cuts at airline Iberia.
On Thursday, Spain's Parador hotel chain said it was
dismissing 350 workers, a hit to even one of the country's more
Permanent hiring in Spain, meanwhile, has yet to pick up
despite efforts to make the system more flexible.
While the number of people out of work in Spain fell by 1.2
percent in December mostly thanks to the holiday hiring,
according to labour ministry data, analysts were not optimistic
for a change in trend in the damaged job market. [ ID :nL5E9C31GL]
"We expect renewed job losses at the start of 2013, with the
latest lead indicators suggesting the economy is set to endure
further output losses in the first half of 2013," said IHS
Global Insight analyst Raj Badiani, forecasting a further labour
Spain's economy is contracting under the weight of 60
billion euros ($79 billion) worth of budget cuts, and expected
to dip 1.5 percent this year - likely leaving even more people
out of work.
GREECE, SPAIN VIE FOR FIRST PLACE
Spain's latest jobless data means 4.8 million people are
registered as out of work, but the figures are considered less
reliable than data from the National Statistics Institute (INE).
INE recorded 5.8 million Spaniards out of work in the third
quarter, putting the country's unemployment rate at a record 25
percent, the highest since the Franco dictatorship ended in the
The only comparable level in the euro zone is in Greece
which, in an economic depression for six years, recorded a
monthly unemployment rate of 26 percent in September, meaning
that it may by now have jumped ahead of Spain.
Also of concern in Spain is a decline in the number of
Social Security contributions in December, which analysts said
may reflect the exodus of immigrants now seeking brighter
prospects outside Spain.
Standing outside a Madrid employment office, 57-year-old
truck driver Antonio Pino lamented his situation at a company
that has implemented an 18-month lay-off plan during which
employees work for two months and go on the dole for a month.
"It's devastating living like this. In one sweep the
government has wiped out everything we'd worked for during the
past 30 years. Another 25 years will have to pass to get to
where we were just a few years ago," Pino said.
FEW NEW HIRES IN SPAIN
A Spanish association of temporary work companies called
AGETT expected firms to hire 500,000 temporary workers over the
Christmas period, compared to 550,000 the year before in
anticipation of lower spending from cash-strapped consumers hit
by tax rises and no seasonal bonus for civil servants.
"We're pretty negative on the outlook for 2013 and expect
unemployment to be over 27 percent," AGETT analyst Alejandro
Costanzo said. "We're going to hit the bottom in 2013, then in
2014 we'll see what effect the government measures have."
In Germany, recent economic data has been mixed but Timo
Klein at IHS Global Insight said he expected joblessness to fall
once again from mid-2013, after rising at the start of the year.
Meanwhile, new applications for short-time work in Germany
are estimated at 45,000 for December, roughly as in October and
November but almost double the average of 26,000 seen during the
first half of 2012.
Wage restraint and labour market reforms have pushed the
German jobless rate down to a 20-year low, and the country's
model is often cited as an example for European nations seeking
to cut unemployment and become more competitive.
But critics say much of the resilience of Germany's labour
market is due to reforms that broadened and entrenched the
low-paid and temporary work sector, boosting wage inequality.