Spain's unemployment rate rose for the eighth month in a row in March, reaching a record 4.75 million, equating to 23.6% of the population according to figures released on Monday.
The situation is even worse for young Spaniards, with youth unemployment running at almost 50%.
The government hopes that the rescent labour reform bill will help ease the problem. The new measures, that angered unions and sparked last Thursday's general strike, include reducing severance pay and restricting inflation-linked salary increases.
But deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said on Friday the nation was in an "extreme situation" and extreme measures were needed. "This is a moment that demands serious efforts to reduce spending but also structural reforms to make the economy grow and create jobs," she said.
Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union and it is expected to rise further this year, as the government makes deep cuts in public spending. On Friday the government announced cuts of 27bn euros in its 2012 budget, with departmental budgets being reduced by almost 17%.