Spain reverses rise in unemployment: report

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The number of unemployed people in Spain fell by around 24,000 in April, reversing an eight-month upwards spiral, according to official figures published in newspapers on Sunday.

The data from the labour ministry shows the total number of those out of work stood at 4,142,000 at the end of last month, the leading daily El Pais reported.

According to the Cadena Ser radio station, the government decided to leak the figure, due to be officially released on Tuesday, to silence criticism sparked by the release on Friday of quarterly figures showing the number out of work had topped 20 percent, the highest rate since 1997.

The quarterly figure from the national statistics institute INE, which uses a different calculator method from the labour ministry, said the average number of unemployed in the first three months of the year jumped by 280,200 to 4.61 million.

El Pais said that April was traditionally a time when the jobs market picked up with as weather improved.

The high unemployment rate means that the Spanish government will face 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.

According to a poll published by the same paper on Sunday, 81 percent of Spaniards belive that Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government has not taken the measures needed to overcome the crisis.

And 62 percent of those surveyed said they feared Spain could be affected by the contagion from the economic crisis in Greece where the government has had to implement swingeing public sector cuts in order to access bailout funds.

© 2010 AFP

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