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Technology & Innovation

Unemployment in Spain Leads to the Creation of New Currencies

Jobless with few prospects, many in Spain are looking at the invented currencies of time banks to help pay for goods and services with hours of labor.

What’s the Latest Development?

The 2007 market collapse has had a huge impact on jobless rates in Spain. While Spanish labor laws help protect older workers, unemployment rates are on the rise. “Today, workers 16 to 24 face an astronomical 53.3% unemployment rate. For 25- to 34-year-olds, the rate is 27%.” Without a means for income, Spanish youth are looking for other ways to pay for things. One growing trend is the formation of time banks, which allow people to trade their labor for other goods and services.

What’s the Big Idea?

All over Spain, merchants as well as individuals are taking advantage time banks. There are now over 290 such banks. In the Catalonia region, several businesses and town governments have started accepting an invented currency—the Eco—that is backed by hours of labor. Individuals are trading cooking lessons and fresh produce for car rides and legal services.  While time banks may not be a permanent solution to the stability of the Spanish economy, they can provide the jobless with a way to sustain themselves.

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