Spanish unemployment falls in June

Madrid — Financial Times

People enter a government-run employment office in Madrid. Spain's registered jobless rate fell by 2.1 per cent in June, from a month earlier, leaving 4.6 million people out of work, data from the Labour Ministry showed on Tuesday. (ANDREA COMAS/REUTERS)

The number of Spaniards out of work fell in June ahead of the country’s tourist season as Madrid said it would announce further steps to meet its ambitious budget deficit reduction plans for this year.

The number of registered unemployed in Spain dropped by 98,853 month-on-month from May to June, data from the country’s Labour Ministry showed – the largest fall in June since the data series began in 1996.

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The 2.1-per-cent fall took Spanish joblessness down to 4.62 million, with unemployment levels dropping across all of the country’s 17 autonomous regions in the third consecutive month of falling number of claimants.

Luis de Guindos, Spain’s Finance Minister, said that while the data should be viewed in a seasonal context, with industries such as tourism taking on employees for the summer period, the June drop in claimants was positive.

Engracia Hidalgo, Secretary of State for Employment, said: “June is traditionally a good month for jobs, but this has never reached a decrease of almost 100,000 people.”

Spain’s joblessness numbers remain the worst in the European Union and on an annual basis registered unemployment has increased by 493,468 people, the data showed.

Mr. de Guindos said that Spain would take additional steps to meet its budget deficit reduction targets for this year, after figures for the first five months of 2012 released last week indicated that the country would struggle to achieve the needed targets without extra measures.

The Spanish government, which has stuck by a pledge to reduce its budget deficit from 8.9 per cent of gross domestic product in 2011 to 5.9 per cent this year, is considering increasing taxes on energy, property and consumer items, Mr. de Guindos said at an event organized by the news agency Europa Press in Madrid.

Restating that Madrid’s commitment to meeting the target was “absolute” amid scepticism from Brussels that it will be achieved, Mr. d e Guindos also said that Spanish savings banks that have been taken over by the state could receive European capital within weeks.

The conditions attached to the funds, which will come after the latest in a series of audits examining the capital needs of Spain’s financial sector, had to be “concrete and specific,” he said, which are likely to involve asset sales and branch closings.

Spanish banks will gain access up to €100-billion ($128-billion), but the exact terms of the aid have yet to be decided.

Within Spain’s latest jobless figures, all sectors of the economy saw a decline in benefit claimants apart from agriculture, which saw a small 0.7-per-cent month-on-month increase.

Joblessness among people under 25 fell by 7.6 per cent, the Labour Ministry said.