Spain's National Statistics Institute says the country's unemployment rate shot up to a record 27.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2013.

The agency said Thursday the number of people unemployed rose by 237,400 people in the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, taking the total to 6.2 million.

Spain is in recession again as it struggles to deal with the collapse of its once-booming real estate sector in 2008.

The conservative government has launched a series of financial and labour reforms and pursued a raft of spending cuts and tax increases that have managed to reduce a swollen deficit. Even so, the country had the highest budget deficit among the 17 European Union countries that use the euro in 2012.