Spain's battered economy will be stuck in recession in the second quarter of 2012, throwing more people out of work, the central bank predicted in a report Tuesday.
Spain posted a 24.4-percent unemployment rate in the first three months of the year as the economy slipped into recession with activity shrinking for the second straight quarter.
Now the Bank of Spain says the recession will persist at least until mid-2012.
"Available indicators for the second quarter are still scarce but they do anticipate that activity will continue contracting in this period," the Bank of Spain said in a monthly report.
Spanish manufacturers reported weakening foreign demand for their goods, the bank said.
Construction jobs were being destroyed at a faster rate, it said, with the number of building-related workers reporting as unemployed up 17.3 percent in April.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos had already forecast a further economic contraction in the second quarter.
Official data show the economy shrank 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2011 and again by the same amount in the first quarter of 2012.
The economy minister has estimated that Spanish gross domestic product will shrink by a total of 1.7 percent this year, but he forecasts slight growth of 0.2 percent in 2013.
Spain's government says it is determined to press ahead with an austerity programme to rein in its mushrooming debt despite the economic troubles, saying the priority is to regain investor confidence.
The public deficit -- the shortfall between income to spending -- was equal to 8.9 percent of annual GDP last year, far wide of 6.0 percent level agreed with the European Union.
Spain's government is now aiming to slash the deficit to 5.3 percent this year and to 3.0 percent -- the EU deficit ceiling -- in 2013.
Recession and unemployment complicate that task, however, because they reduce government tax revenues while increasing expenses on items like jobless benefits.