Spanish jobless claims fall in July for 6th straight month

MADRID, Spain - The number of registered unemployed fell in Spain for the 6th straight month in July, government data showed Tuesday, August 4, the latest sign of improvement in the eurozone's 4th-largest economy.

Jobless claims declined last month by 74,028, or 1.8%, to 4.05 million, the labor ministry said in a statement.

The improved jobs outlook should provide a boost to conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he prepares for what promises to be a hard-fought re-election campaign at the end of the year.

He credits his embrace of fiscal austerity and labour reforms that make it cheaper to hire and fire workers for the economic turnaround - but the reforms have cost him voter support.

The number of people without work fell in every region and across all sectors except for agriculture, although the majority of new jobs were on short-term contracts.

July is traditionally a relatively strong month for the Spanish jobs market, as retailers, restaurants and other service providers bolster their staff for the busy summer tourist season.

The number of registered unemployed was down by 373,584 or 8.4%, over July 2014.

The labour ministry's monthly figure is a different measure from the quarterly unemployment rate, which is based on surveys and stood at 23.78% in the first quarter, according to the National Statistic Institute.

The institute, which includes in its estimate job seekers who are not signed on for benefits, said there were 5.44 million unemployed in Spain at the end of March.

Spain emerged in 2013 from 5 years of on-off recession. The government forecasts the economy to grow 3.3% this year - more than twice the average growth rate forecast for eurozone countries. -