April jobless figures make grim reading for Spain’s unemployed

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MADRID (Reuters) – Almost 5 million Spaniards were registered as unemployed in April, data showed, as their prospects of finding work in the country with the European Union’s second highest jobless rate deteriorated further.

The number of registered jobless fell by 0.91 percent, or 46,050 people. But those gains were mainly down to restaurants and hotels gearing up for the holiday season, and in seasonally adjusted terms the number rose by 17,663 from March, Monday’s labor ministry data showed.

“The figure shows the continued weakness of the labor market and of the Spanish economy. It’s not compatible with the (government’s forecast) of a stronger economy in the second quarter of the year,” Jose Luis Martinez, a strategist at Citi in Madrid, said.

Last month’s quarterly National Statistics Institute survey, which polls registered and non-registered unemployed, showed that 27 percent, or 6.2 million people, were out of work in the first quarter.

Spain’s jobless rate – the second highest in the EU behind Greece – has risen every quarter since mid-2011 as the economy struggles to exit its second recession since the end of 2009.

April’s figures show the biggest falls in registered unemployed were in the services sector and in construction, from which millions have already lost their jobs after the bubble burst in 2008.

But a survey showed on Monday that Spain’s services sector shrank in April at its fastest rate this year, with employment conditions worsening every month since March 2008.

The labor ministry figures also do not include the long-term unemployed who no longer register as out of work. Almost two million people have been out of work for more than two years, according to official data.

The government expects the unemployment rate to remain above 24 percent until 2016.

(Reporting By Clare Kane and Manuel Maria Ruiz- Writing by Paul Day- Editing by John Stonestreet)

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