Geographical distribution of unemployment rates has been analyzed from different methodological perspectives in theoretical and empirical studies. In recent years, researcher on regional unemployment persistence which deals with the spatial autocorrelation in the levels and dynamics of unemployment has increased.
Following this line, our study presents new evidence about the behaviour of provincial unemployment rates in Spain. First, descriptive techniques are used to investigate the disparity and persistent differences in unemployment rates in the Spanish provinces (NUTS-3) during the period 1998-2007. Then, we use spatial filtering techniques in a panel estimation framework to check the existence of spatial patterns which are significant over time. Our results clearly show the existence of a process of polarization and persistent disparities in unemployment rates between the provinces with high unemployment rates and those with low values.