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Spain jobless rate down for second straight quarter

The unemployment rate in Spain has dropped again in the third quarter, making the prospect of a slow, but sustainable recovery of the labor market more likely. The news came as the country marked the end of recession.

Spain's jobless rate dropped to 25.98 percent in the third quarter, the national statistics institute, INE, reported on Thursday. That was additional good news for the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, which had only just succeeded in battling it way out of over two years of recession.

The number of people out of work dipped by 72,800 to 5.9 million, thus lowering the jobless rate from the previous quarter's 26.26 percent.

The July though September figures marked the second straight quarter showing a drop in the rate which peaked at a record of over 27 percent early this year, with youth unemployment presenting a particular problem.

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Although the rate is still one of the highest among all eurozone member countries, analysts saw the latest figures as an added sign that a downturn lasting more than two years had finally hit bottom.

On Wednesday, Spain's Central Bank had said in its monthly report the country had inched out of recession with 0.1-percent economic growth in the third quarter.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government said it expected the economy to shrink by 1.3 percent this year, but added that gross domestic product would expand by 0.7 percent in 2014.

However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) insisted Spain's unemployment rate would stay above 25 percent until 2018 unless Madrid undertook even deeper labor market reforms in addition to austerity programs already being implemented right now.

hg/pfd (AFP, dpa)

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