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Spanish unemployment drops ahead of general election

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Spanish unemployment drops ahead of general election
Photo: AFP
11:49 CEST+02:00
The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain fell in May below four million for the first time since August 2010, official data showed Thursday, giving a boost to the ruling conservatives ahead of a June 26th general election.

The jobless total fell by 119,768 to 3.89 million, the labour ministry said in a statement, due mainly to a fall in the number in unemployed in the construction and services sector.

"This is a very positive figure for Spaniards," Labour Minister Fátima Báñez said during an interview with Spanish public television TVE.

Spain's unemployment rate, which is calculated separately by national statistics institute INE, is still the highest in the eurozone after Greece's. It stood at 21 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

But it has fallen significantly from a peak of 26.9 percent in early 2013 and is also down from the 22.6 percent rate Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy inherited when he took office at the end of 2011.

INE tracks people who are looking for work rather than just those registered with job agencies.

Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) has made its handling of the economy the focus of its campaign for the repeat polls at the end of the month.

Spain was hit hard by the global financial crisis, experiencing five difficult years of on-off recession.

Last year, the Spanish economy, the eurozone's fourth largest, expanded by 3.2 percent - one of the fastest growing rates in Europe.

The PP came first in an inconclusive December 20th general election but lost its absolute majority in parliament and was unable to form a governing coalition with other parties, triggering the repeat polls.

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