Spaniards group under one roof to ride out crisis
22 February 2011 @ 11:07
Jesus Garcia, 46, has locked up his belongings in a warehouse and moved back with his mother so that his teenage son and former wife could take over his low-rent apartment after her salary as a secretary was slashed.
High joblessness and falling wages are forcing Spaniards to regroup under one roof to ride out the tough times, threatening consumer spending that the country's Socialist government had hoped would pull the economy out of stagnation this year.
A self-employed house painter, Garcia's own monthly income has dropped since the crash of Spain's property boom several years ago.
"We're not dying of hunger, but it's time to scale down and focus on the basics," Garcia said.
A Mediterrean tolerance for family is helping Spain survive its stubbornly-high unemployment, which doubles the rest of the euro zone at 20 percent.
But the more people under one roof means fewer sales of everything from appliances to electricity, creating a double-edged sword and threatening to drag out Spain's economic malaise for some time to come.
After the global financial crisis, the government introduced stimulus measures such as money for buying new cars or trading in old household appliances, but that money has now run dry and the 2011 budget does not include any consumer buying incentives.
Garcia, who is learning to bake fresh bread and wants to find a parcel of land to grow vegetables, said he has warned his son that he may not be able to update the mobile phone and digital camera he carries with him everywhere.