Spanish official unemployment eases further in July

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The number of people unemployed in Spain, which has the highest rate in the eurozone, fell for the fourth month running in July as the tourism industry hired workers for the summer, the government said on Tuesday.

At the end of July there were 3.9 million registered unemployed, 73,790 fewer than in June, the labour ministry said.

It was the fourth month running of falling unemployment. A drop in April had reversed an eight-month upwards spiral.

The service sector showed the largest fall, down 44,496, amid demand by the tourism industry.

The ministry does not provide a jobless rate, but the National Statistics Institute, which uses a different calculation method from the labour ministry method, said on Friday that the rate in the second quarter had risen to 20.09 percent in the second quarter from 20.05 percent in the first.

It is the highest rate in the 16-member eurozone and more than double the 9.6 percent average of the whole European Union.

The rise in the overall rate despite the lower monthly figures is attributed to the country's growing working-age population.

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.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Friday that unemployment "is the key issue we still have to tackle."

The Spanish economy, Europe's fifth-biggest, slumped into recession in 2008 owing to the collapse of a property boom which had long fuelled growth.

© 2010 AFP

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