Spanish official jobless drops

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The number of people out of work in Spain, which has the highest official jobless rate in the developed world, dropped in April after three months of increases, the government said on Wednesday.

There were 4.27 million people out of work last month, down 1.48 percent from March, the labour ministry said.

The number of jobless had reached 4.33 million in March, the highest since the economic crisis began in 2008, and also the most since such statistics were first compiled by the ministry in 1996.

The National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry, last week said the unemployment rate soared to 21.29 percent in the first quarter, the highest level since the beginning of 1997.

It is also the highest rate in the European Union and in the area covered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, with figures twice the averages.

The labour ministry said the drop in April "is the most since 2006 in the same month."

The secretary of state for employment, Mari Luz Rodriguez, said "the figures show that there is a generalised fall in unemployment."

Spain's booming construction industry drew millions of unskilled immigrant workers and generated high levels of economic growth in the decade to 2008.

But the collapse of the property bubble, compounded by the global financial crisis, left many people out of work, especially immigrants and youths.

Any rise in the number of those unemployed and claiming benefit adds to the squeeze on public sector finances just as the government is trying to stamp out market fears that Spain will need an IMF-EU bailout like Greece and Ireland.

© 2011 AFP

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