The number of Spaniards registered as out of work in August fell from July.
The decline in the number of people signing on was just 31, but normally the total goes up in August as temporary workers are laid off when the summer holiday season winds down.
It was the sixth month of falling unemployment and the numbers were seized on by the government as another sign the economy is turning around.
“There’s a stabilisation in the jobs market, and I’d say this is a reason for hope. There’s a great deal more to do … but I’d say we’ve hit bottom. In the second part of this year we’ll see slight (economic) growth,” Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said during an interview on Cadena Ser radio.
Madrid jobseeker Miriam Martin was not so sure and said she does not believe things will get better: “I think I’ll have to leave the country as other Spaniards are doing. It’s so hard, very difficult for people of my age, as well as for older people.”
The spike in unemployment at the end of August as hotels and restaurants in resorts began closing after the tourism season may not have been as high as in previous years, but a big factor is also the number of people leaving the workforce, and even leaving the country.
Last year Spain’s population fell for the first time in at least 40 years.
The situation may be worse than the August data implied. The quarterly unemployment rate, taken from a survey and considered a more accurate picture of Spain’s jobless situation than the monthly figure of those registering with the government, stood at 26.3 percent of the workforce in the second quarter.
Around half of the nearly six million without work have been out of a job for more than a year, and many long-term unemployed stop registering at government offices once benefits run out.