MADRID - Spain's unemployment rate fell in the second quarter of the year as companies hired more staff following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, official data showed on Thursday. Data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed the unemployment rate fell to 15.26% in the April-June period from 15.98% in the previous quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the rate would drop to 15.10%.
The unemployment rate remains well above the 13.78% rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 before the pandemic hit Spain. The government expects the unemployment rate to fall to 15% at the end of this year and to 14% in 2022, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said earlier this week.
Around 465,000 new jobs were added over the period, showing the economy has improved from the 0.4% contraction in the first quarter when the government toughened restrictions to curb new waves of COVID-19 infections.
The hundreds of thousands of workers who were put on government-supported furlough since the beginning of the pandemic were not included in unemployment data. Many of them are now returning to work.
INE is expected to release gross domestic product data for the second quarter on Friday.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Aida Pelaez-Fernandez; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky) ((Aida.Pelaez-Fernandez@thomsonreuters.com; +48 58 769 65 94;))