The number of people out of work in Spain fell by a record amount last year according to figures released on Thursday.
However the unemployment rate remained at 20.9 percent of the workforce in the final three months of the year, which is still a threat to the country’s long-term economic growth.
Spain’s National Statistics Institute said the number of unemployed fell by 678,200, its biggest ever yearly drop, to 4.78 million. In all of last year 525,100 jobs were created.
Shops and restaurants did take on more staff over Christmas. Employment rose in the services and agriculture sectors. Retail sales rose 2.2 percent in December from the same month in 2014.
Spain has been through a double-dip recession that sent unemployment soaring to just under 27 percent at the end of 2013.
In the short term, economists expect job creation to continue, though possibly at a slower pace than the 2.99 percent annual growth rate recorded in 2015 as growth in output also tails off slightly.