Dec 26, 8:54 AM EST

Spain premier announces modest minimum wage raise

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MADRID (AP) -- Spain's prime minister has announced minimal increases to the minimum wage and for government-funded pensions and predicted the nation's economy will "take off" in 2015 following years of crushing financial pain.

Mariano Rajoy says the monthly minimum wage will rise 0.5 percent to 649 euros ($791) and that monthly pension payments will increase 0.25 percent.

He told reporters the 24-percent unemployment rate will decline in 2015 before he is forced to call national elections and that he plans to head his party's ticket.

This year was Spain's first for net job creation since 2007, but many Spaniards haven't benefited from an anemic recovery.

The Bank of Spain this week said the economy likely expanded 1.4 percent in 2014 and projects 2-percent growth next year.

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