EMPLOYMENT

Jobless claims fall in August for first time in 13 years but by only 31 people

Registered unemployment has now declined for six months in a row

Temporary part-time contracts rose by 33 percent

The number of jobless claims in Spain in August fell for the first time since 2000, but only just. The Labor Ministry said Tuesday that the number of people officially registered as unemployed fell by 31 to 4.698 million from July.

However, according to the latest Active Population Survey (EPA) compiled by the National Statistics Institute (INE), the number of people out of work totaled 5.977 million, while the jobless rate was 26.3 percent. The EPA is considered a better gauge of the state of the labor market as it includes people who are looking for work but not registered as unemployed because they are not entitled to benefits.

Traditionally, August is a month in which jobless claims increase. But while claims fell this time, the number of people signed up as contributors to the Social Security system declined by 99,069 from July to 16.327 million. However, that was still the best performance since 2005 when the ranks of Social Security affiliates declined by 87,556.

Jobless claims have now fallen for six months in a row and by 340,000 over that period, with the economy showing signs of being poised to emerge from nine quarters in recession, the second downturn Spain has suffered in four years. The pace of the decline in GDP on a quarterly basis slowed to 0.1 percent in the second quarter from 0.4 percent the previous three months.

However, most of the decline in unemployment can be attributed to temporary hiring for the main summer holiday period. The number of temporary part-time contracts awarded in August rose by 33 percent to 343,565. Out of a total of 1.04 million work contracts granted, only 62,454 were permanent.

Jobless claims rose in the services sector and industry but fell in construction and agriculture and among first-time jobseekers.

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