Spanish prime minister raises 2015 growth forecast to 2.4 percent and predicts 500,000 jobs

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says Spain's economy will grow by a better-than-expected 2.4 percent in 2015, claiming it as strong evidence that the country has emerged from the severe economic crisis.

Opening the annual state-of-the-nation debate Tuesday, Rajoy said Spain had moved from the edge of the abyss to being the eurozone country with the highest growth and job creation.

Rajoy had last predicted the economy would grow by 2 percent in 2015, a year in which he faces general elections.

Despite the growth — Spain also grew 1.4 percent in 2014 — unemployment remains high at 23.7 percent. Rajoy promised to create some 500,000 jobs this year, raising to 1 million the number created since taking office in 2011.