Spanish official jobless numbers fall for second month
Spain's embattled government finally received some good news Wednesday when official data show the number of unemployed fell in May for the second consecutive month.
At the end of May there were 4.06 million registered unemployed in Spain, 76,223 fewer than in April, when the number fell by 24,188, the labour ministry said.
The April drop had reversed an eight-month upwards spiral in unemployment.
May is traditionally a good month for employment, with the start of seasonal contracts for the holiday period.
But the figures boosted the government's argument that the eurozone's highest jobless rate had peaked during the first quarter.
"The figure for May is good in view of the complex economic situation that we are experiencing," said the secretary of state for employment, Maravillas Rojo.
The quarterly figure from the national statistics institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry, said the average number of unemployed in the first three months of the year jumped by 280,200 to 4,612,700, for a jobless rate of 20.05 percent, the highest in the euro zone.
Spain's jobless rate has soared since the global credit crisis hastened the collapse of its labour-intensive construction industry in 2008.
The high rate means that the Spanish government faces an even bigger bill for jobless benefits as it tries to rein in a public deficit that hit 11.2 percent of output last year.
The Spanish economy entered recession at the end of 2008 and only emerged with tepid 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter.
© 2010 AFP