Job gain as Spain election looms

Spain posted its biggest fall in unemployment ever recorded in May as resorts hired staff ahead of a record influx of tourists, a potential boost for acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy in an election rerun in three weeks.

Unemployment has been gradually receding in Spain since a recession ended nearly three years ago, but many jobseekers are still struggling to find work, fuelling frustrations among voters.

Spain returns to the ballot box on June 26 after an inconclusive December election stripped Mr Rajoy’s centre-right People’s Party (PP) of its absolute majority.

Opinions polls show the vote could produce another political stalemate, forcing parties to once again try and form a coalition.

The number of Spaniards registering as unemployed last month fell by 3% from April, dipping below the 4m threshold for the first time in six years to 3.89m, data from the labour ministry showed yesterday.

Nearly 120,000 fewer people signed on as jobless, the biggest drop for a month of May on record.

Job creation, meanwhile, progressed at a slightly slower pace than a year ago but was still strong, growing by over 1% from an already solid April. One in six jobs was in hotels and restaurants.

Spain’s dysfunctional labour market played a major role in December’s political upset, as support for upstart parties advocating stronger workers’ rights or an overhaul of job contracts fragmented the vote.

Mass lay-offs during a six-year downturn left Spain with the second-highest unemployment rate in Europe. Though it has fallen sharply since 2013 it still stands at 21% of the workforce.


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