Spanish jobless queue shrinks in July

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Spain's jobless queue shrank in July for the fourth month running, the government said Tuesday, seizing on the report as good news ahead of November general elections.

The number of people registered as jobless remained above four million, however.

Spain's Socialist government has faced mass demonstrations by "indignant" protesters over the state of the economy, in particular a sky-high unemployment rate topping 20 percent.

The Labour Ministry report showed the ranks of the unemployed dipped by 1.02 percent from June to 4.08 million people in July. The number was still 4.38 percent higher than in the same month last year.

The state secretary for labour, Mari Luz Rodriguez, said it was the fourth straight month of declines which had cut the jobless queue by more than 250,000 people.

"It is good news," she said in a statement.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced general elections for November 20, four months early, saying the government has put the economy on the path to recovery.

Polls show the conservative opposition Popular Party with a substantial lead over the ruling Socialists.

Data compiled separately by the National Statistics Institute showed Friday that the Spanish unemployment rate eased slightly to 20.89 percent in the second quarter from 21.29 percent in the first quarter.

But the rate remained the highest among industrialized nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

© 2011 AFP

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