Madrid - Spain's jobless queue shrank dramatically in May, the government said Tuesday, encouraging news for an economy gingerly recovering from a long, job-wrecking downturn.
The number of people registered as unemployed fell by 111,916 from the previous month to 4.57 million, the steepest decline for the month of May since 1998, the Labour Ministry said.
Once corrected to smooth out seasonal blips, the unemployment queue eased by a more modest 26,604 people, it said.
Spain's overall unemployment rate actually rose to 25.93 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 25.73 percent in the previous three months, according to a broader, household survey released last month.
Many people departed the workforce by retiring, leaving the country in search of work elsewhere or simply giving up the job hunt, the figures showed.
Spain's economy emerged in mid-2013 from five years of stop-start recession, showing a gradual but modest increase in activity since then.
Unemployment remains a daunting challenge for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government, however, six years after a decade-long property bubble imploded in 2008, wiping out millions of jobs and sparking a double-dip recession.
Meanwhile in Italy, the unemployment rate held steady in April at 12.6 percent, the national statistics agency Istat said Tuesday. - Sapa-AFP