Smaller jobless rise takes edge off Spain's labour market gloomTuesday 04 February 2014 11.34
The number of registered jobless in Spain rose in January as employers shed workers hired for the Christmas holiday season, but the rate of increase slowed from previous years.
The figures suggested the ailing labour market may have touched the bottom.
Joblessness rose 2.4%, or by 113,097 people, from December to 4.8 million, the Labour Ministry data showed.
The rise was the first since October. But the ministry said it was also the smallest gain in the first month of the year since 2007, and in seasonally adjusted terms the figure fell by 3,907 people.
Unemployment has soared higher in Spain than in any other European Union country bar Greece since a decade-long property bubble burst six years ago. Based on labour market survey data from the national statistics office, the rate was 26% in the fourth quarter of 2013.
But recent stronger than expected economic growth has helped fuel hopes the worst may be over, and headcount in the still battered construction sector rose by 3,486 last month.
Almost 100,000 people were laid off from Spain's services sector, while employment also fell in agriculture, by 8,110 people and in industry, by 3,577.
But in annual terms, registered jobless fell by 166,343 people, the ministry said.
The Spanish economy emerged from a two-year recession in the second half of last year, prompting many economists to raise their economic forecasts and the government to forecast net job creation for 2014.
But for many Spaniards, making ends meet remains a constant struggle. Jobs are scarce and, when they do become available, wages are often pitifully low.