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Spain’s jobless numbers fall in August to reach pre-lockdown levels

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The number of people registering as jobless in Spain fell for the sixth month in a row in August to its lowest level since before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, as the easing of restrictions spurred a recovery in the crucial tourism industry.

The number of jobless people fell 2.42%, or by 82,583 people, in August from the previous month, leaving 3.3 million out of work, the Labour Ministry said on Thursday.

The figure was the lowest since February 2020, before the pandemic forced a lockdown in Spain the following month.

“It’s the first time such a steep decline has happened in August. This demonstrates the recovery of tourism,” Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero said in an interview on RNE radio.

Traditionally, unemployment rises in August as many companies close down for annual vacations and lay off workers, but more hiring by hotels and restaurants to cater for the return of foreign visitors offset the usual seasonal impact.

Though tourism data for August is not available yet, July data showed the number of foreign tourists in the month jumped 78% from a year ago as many travel restrictions were lifted, but remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

The country has added 76,541 jobs during the month, 42% fewer than in July, Social Security Ministry said in a separate report.

The number of furloughed people fell further to 272,190, down from a peak of 3.6 million when the country went into lockdown last year.

Photo: A man takes notes as he enjoy the sun while sitting at a terrace table of a restaurant in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. EPA-EFE/Enric Fontcuberta