Spain jobless rate dips under 24%: official data

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Spain's painfully high unemployment rate eased further last quarter, dipping under 24 percent for the first time since 2011 as economic recovery apparently gained pace, official data showed on Thursday.

The rate is still among the highest in the rich world with more than five million people unemployed, but Spain's government said the improvement boded well after several years of economic crisis and austerity measures.

In the busy July to September tourism period, when many Spanish companies take on new staff, the unemployment rate was 23.67 percent, down from 24.47 percent in the previous quarter, the National Statistics Institute said.

The jobless rate among the under-25s was still extremely high at 52 percent and there were 1.79 million families with all working-age members unemployed.

The number of people looking for work in Spain fell by 195,000 in the third quarter -- the biggest such decline on record for that period. But that left 5.4 million people still without a job.

Most of the jobs created this summer were in services, but the figures showed the manufacturing industry also started to generate work again -- as did the construction sector which sparked Spain's economic crisis when it collapsed in 2008.

Spain's conservative government is forecasting that unemployment will fall to 22.2 percent by the end of next year.

"For the first time since the crisis, our country is going to see net job creation in 2014," Labour Minister Fatima Banez said on Thursday.

It forecasts the economy will grow 1.3 percent in 2014, bouncing back after six years of crisis that brought it close to financial collapse.

After officially exiting recession in mid-2013, the economy has been growing steadily this year. The central bank on Thursday estimated growth of 0.5 percent for the third quarter compared to a year ago.

It warned however of lingering economic risks in the eurozone, where growth has ground to a halt overall.


© 2014 AFP

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