Spain hails summer jobs boom after record jobless rate

MADRID (AFP) - The number of Spanish jobless benefit claimants took a record plunge in June as an avalanche of summer jobs opened up, government data showed on Tuesday, a rare glimmer of hope for the recession-hit economy.

But when the figures were corrected to strip out seasonal variations, the number of people registering as unemployed actually edged slightly higher, the Labour Ministry report showed.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government hailed the result as it pushed through an unpopular programme of reforms and austerity measures to cure a debt-laden economy with a record jobless rate of more than 27 per cent.

The number of registered unemployed fell from the previous month by 127,248 people, or 2.6 per cent, to 4.76 million people in June, the report showed. It was the fourth straight month of declining job claimants.

When corrected for seasonal variations, however, the number of claimants rose by 996 people to 4.88 million, the report showed.

The government and financial markets usually focus on the raw figures rather than the seasonally adjusted data.

"Never has registered unemployment fallen so much in a single month," said the state secretary for employment, Ms Engracia Hidalgo, noting a broad decline in jobless figures across all sectors except agriculture.

Ms Hidalgo welcomed a slow down in job losses shown in the raw data, saying the 12-month increase in registered jobless numbers had eased to 148,411 in June from 493,468 a year earlier.

Nevertheless, she said, Spain had "much work" ahead to offer work to all those suffering from the economic crisis.

"We are firmly committed to lay the foundations so Spain can recover the path of economic growth and the creation of stable, quality jobs," the employment secretary said.

Spain's official unemployment rate shot to a record 27.16 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, according to a broader, quarterly household survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute.

Mr Rajoy's government is forecasting the jobless rate will ease to 26.7 per cent over 2014 and ease back further to 25 per cent in 2015.

Spain, the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, is still struggling to overcome the aftermath of a decade-long property bubble that imploded in 2008, destroying millions of jobs and sending debt levels soaring.