Thousands of people are marching in 56 Spanish cities to protest punishing austerity cuts they say will only increase unemployment and job insecurity in a country suffering from its second recession in three years and record high unemployment.

A large gathering called by 150 organizations is marching in Madrid behind a banner saying "they want to ruin the country. We have to stop them."

Protesters chanted slogans against cuts and waved placards reading "youth without jobs, society with no future." That is a reference to the higher than 50 percent youth unemployment rate. Spain's overall jobless rate is nearly 25 percent and social unrest is on the rise.

The government has implemented tough austerity measures over its nine months in office.