Jobless claims rose by nearly 45,000 last month over last month to hit 4,008,789, the labour ministry said, the fifth consecutive monthly increase.
The rise is due to the impact of “severe restrictions imposed to combat the third wave of the pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement.
The last time the number of jobless in Spain rose above four million was in April 2016.
Spain’s regional governments, which are responsible for health, have imposed various measures to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including shutting down bars and restaurants and nightly curfews which have hit the hospitality sector hard.
A broader, quarterly household survey by the national statistics institute INE provides the official unemployment rate, which hit 3.7 million or 16.1 percent at the end of December.
Both the labour ministry and the INE figures do not include the roughly 755,000 people benefitting from a government coronavirus furlough scheme as of the end of last year.
The Spanish government says it has spent €40 billion ($48 billion) since the start of the pandemic to finance the furlough scheme and help the self-employed.
Spain’s economy contracted by 11 percent in 2020, one of the worst performers in the eurozone, with its key tourism sector battered by the