Unemployment in Spain fell to its lowest level in almost 30 years in the second quarter. Spanish officials said although there was a slowdown in the country’s booming building sector, there has been more hiring in industry and services. Between April and June, the jobless rate was down to 7.95% from 8.4% in the first three months of the year. For all of 2006 it was 8.51% having fallen from 9.16% in 2005.
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said: “This is historic, and we must congratulate ourselves sincerely. We have a jobless level lower than eight per cent. It is the first time that unemployment has dipped below eight per cent since Spain has been a democracy.” Zapatero, who must hold a general election next year, has said that employment will be his government’s main objective.
The National Statistics Institute said that part of the fall was due to more Spanish women joining the work force. In addition the number of people working on short term contracts fell as the government offered companies incentives to turn those temporary contacts into full time jobs and a third of the new hires during the second quarter were immigrants who now make up 14% of the workforce.