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Spain's unemployment numbers fall in December

Source: Reuters - Tue 4th Jan 2011

Spain jobless numbers fell for the first time in five months in December and the prime minister said the government beat its target for reducing its public sector deficit last year as it fights to fend off a debt crisis.

Weighed down by massive unemployment and shrinking tax revenue, Spain has seen premiums demanded by investors to hold its debt soar in the last six months on concerns its control over public finances was slipping.

The country would beat last year's 9.3 percent of gross domestic product target for the broad public sector deficit - including shortfalls for regional administrations and state agencies - Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said during a radio interview.

Jobless numbers dropped by 0.25 % in December from a month earlier to 4.1 million, the Labour Ministry said on Tuesday.

"In 2011, growth will consolidate and we will create net jobs over the year, but we're a long way from seeing the employment growth that we'd like to see," Zapatero a˙dded.

Citi economist Giada Giani said she did not expect the economy to create net new jobs until 2012.

"December's figure is definitely better than expected, but its still a long way from job creation," she said. Zapatero added that high unemployment continued to be a main concern for the government.

The fall in jobless numbers was sharpest in the services sector, falling 1.72 %, while unemployment rose 4 % in construction, the Labour Ministry said.

Spain's collapsed property market and paralysed construction industry has more than doubled the number of registered unemployed since the start of the economic crisis beginning of 2008.

Around 70 % of the more than 2 million lay offs since the downturn began has been as a direct result of the burst housing bubble, Zapatero said.

Spain's unemployment rate, a quarterly figure calculated through a survey by the National Statistics Institute, was 19.8 % in the third quarter more than double the European Union average.

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