Spain Registered Unemployment Fell in March Amid Recovery Hopes

Spain’s registered unemployment dropped in March, adding to signs that the euro region’s fourth-largest economy will stabilize this year.

The number of people registering for jobless benefits fell by 4,979 from February to 5.04 million, the Labor Ministry in Madrid said today in an e-mailed statement. Spain’s unemployment rate surged to a record 26 percent in the fourth quarter, the national statistics agency INE reported on Jan. 24.

The Spanish economy is in the sixth year of an economic downturn that’s left the country with a third of the euro area’s jobless. While the European Commission forecasts the economy will shrink 1.4 percent this year before growing 0.8 percent in 2014, the Bank of Spain predicts a stabilization at the end of 2013 as the economy may have already passed “the most acute phase” of its recession.

Foreign sales, the only source of growth on the horizon for Spain, reached a record level last year after the deepest austerity measures in the nation’s democratic history undermined domestic demand.

Still, Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas may cut 1,000 jobs, or 16 percent of its Spanish staff, as it focuses on emerging markets. Economists forecast unemployment will rise to 26.8 percent this year.