The jobs situation in Spain remains mostly rosy. Unemployment there increased slightly in the final three months of last year, but is still close to its lowest in more than a quarter of a century. The National Statistics Institute says at the end of last year, the number of people in work in Spain was more than 20 million.
For most of last year the Spanish jobless rate steadily declined, from 9.07% at the start of the year, to 8.53% in the second quarter. It fell to 8.15% between July and September and back up to 8.3% by the end of 2006.
Employment minister Jesús Caldera said: “I can say that we are very close to full employment. And I predict that in 2007 the jobless rate will – for the first time – fall below 8% in Spain.”
Economists believe that as construction activity eases, there will be a slowing of the downward trend in the jobless rate, but that it will continue to fall.
The unions are not as happy as the politicians. Paola Jimenez of the UGT union said: “There’s still a lot to do to improve the quality of the jobs, because the number of temporary workers in Spain is double the levels in the rest of Europe.”
Spain’s unemployment rate has fallen from over 20%, in the early nineties but it remains one of the highest in the region.
The euro zone average, last November, was 7.6%.