File Photo: Commuters wearing face masks sit on a train at the Atocha Station in Madrid on April 13, 2020. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.
Unemployment dropped sharply in Spain in 2021, falling almost three percentage points to a rate not seen since before the pandemic, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said on Thursday.
The rate fell to 13.3 percent at the end of December, down from 16.13 percent a year earlier, with a total of 3.1 million people registered as unemployed in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy. At the end of 2020, that figure stood at nearly 3.7 million.
The latest jobless rate is slightly lower than that recorded before the Covid crisis took hold.
Some 3.19 million people were out of work in December 2019, or 13.8 percent of the workforce
The latest figure does not, however, include people registered as partially unemployed under a furlough scheme introduced to help companies during the pandemic.
As of last month, 102,000 people were still registered on the scheme, the social security ministry said.
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The figures “confirm the extraordinary recovery in the Spanish jobs market since the pandemic”, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told public radio RNE.
“The unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2008,” tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, referring to the global financial crisis of that year.
The INE said job rates were up across the board, with tourism-dependent Spain’s services sector proving particularly buoyant.
The upbeat results came despite an economic recovery that has been less robust than expected, due to the continuation of Covid restrictions and global supply shortages.
Spain was one of the western economies worst affected by the Covid crisis.
GDP plummeted by 10.8% in 2020 and half a million people lost their jobs, many of them in tourism and the hotel sector.