MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish unemployment fell in the fourth quarter to its lowest level since the start of the 2008 financial crisis, data showed on Thursday, as hiring in the agriculture and services sectors increased. led to a faster-than-expected coronavirus rebound. dismissals.
The rate fell to 13.33% from 14.57% in the previous quarter, a drop that Economy Minister Nadia Calvino described as “spectacular” and comfortably below the 14.20% expected by economists polled by Reuters.
The highly seasonal reading from the National Statistics Institute (INE) was the lowest since the third quarter of 2008, when it stood at 11.23%, and the lowest for a fourth quarter since 8, 57% of 2007.
Private sector hiring accounted for all of the 153,900 jobs created during the period, with agriculture leading the gains as farms hired additional workers to help with olive and fall grape harvests .
But it was the tourism-dependent Canary Islands that created the most jobs among Spanish regions, reporting a jump of 7% as the Atlantic archipelago drew crowds of sun seekers from Northern European winter.
Foreign tourism to Spain accelerated in the last quarter of 2021, but remains around 40% below pre-pandemic levels.
In 2021, Spain created more than 840,000 new jobs – the biggest jump since 2005 – largely due to increased hiring in service industries.
Since peaking at 16.26% in the third quarter of 2020, when Spain was reeling from the devastating first wave of COVID-19, unemployment has fallen for five consecutive quarters.
The arrival of the highly contagious but less virulent variant of Omicron sent cases soaring to record highs in December, leading to a spike in sick leave absences.
But a light-hearted government response, which refused to reintroduce restrictions on movement and business activity, meant any structural impact on jobs was limited.
Thursday’s INE reading did not include the roughly 100,000 workers still on the government’s furlough scheme at the end of last year.
(Reporting by Joao Manuel Mauricio in Gdansk, Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro in Madrid; editing by John Stonestreet and Gareth Jones)