Spanish Registered Unemployment Declines in Sign of Recovery

Spain’s registered unemployment dropped in April, lending support to the government’s forecast of an economic recovery this year.

The number of people registering for jobless benefits fell by 46,050 from March to 4.99 million, the Labor Ministry in Madrid said today in an e-mailed statement.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expects Spain’s record 27 percent unemployment rate to start falling next year as improving market confidence helps an economic recovery. Rajoy has implemented the toughest austerity measures in the nation’s democratic history since coming to power in 2011 and overhauled labor rules to enable companies to cut labor costs.

“The Spanish economy is at an inflection point and in 2014 we’ll have positive growth and much more positive data on job creation,” Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told reporters in Madrid. Data show the labor reform is having an impact and registered jobless data will continue to improve, he said.

Ford Motor Co. last month reached a preliminary accord with unions to introduce a new night shift and freeze wages from 2014 through 2018 at its Almusafes factory near Valencia in the south of Spain, El Mundo reported on April 18. A week earlier, workers at General Motors Co.’s auto-assembly plant near Zaragoza, in the north, accepted a two-year salary freeze starting this year.

The European Commission last week said Rajoy’s request for two more years, until 2016, to bring back the largest budget deficit in the European Union within the bloc’s limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product is “reasonable.” Both the commission and the International Monetary Fund forecast unemployment will peak this year as output contracts 1.5 percent before the economy will return to growth in 2014.

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