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ECONOMY

Spanish economy began to create jobs in 2014, confirming slow recovery

Jobless rate down to 23.7% from highs of nearly 27% as country emerges from long crisis

The Spanish labor market showed new signs of recovery in 2014, according to new figures released Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE).

The latest active population survey reports that unemployment fell by 477,100 people and 433,900 jobs were added from January to December, bringing the jobless rate down to 23.7% compared to highs of nearly 27% at the height of the crisis.

The good news comes on top of a positive report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which raised its forecast for Spanish economic growth in 2015 to 2% amid a global downward trend.

Though 2014 showed signs of recovery, there is still a long way to go to make up all the lost ground

Employers hired 65,100 new workers in the last quarter of 2014, although the ranks of the unemployed increased by 30,100 during the same period.

After a seven-year slump, 2014 showed signs of an incipient recovery, but there is still a long way to go before the economy makes up for all the lost ground. In the third quarter of 2007, when the crisis began, there were 20.5 million people holding jobs; that number is now down to 17.6 million. Meanwhile, there were fewer than two million people out of work in late 2007, compared with 5.46 million today.

Changes have also reached the workforce, which continues to shrink, albeit at a slower pace, as fewer people give up looking for work. In the last quarter of 2014 there were 23,026,000 people in the workforce, 44,000 fewer than during the same period in 2013, but a much smaller drop than in the third quarter, when the year-on-year drop was 241,000 individuals.

The statistics also show that open-ended contracts are gaining traction, both full-time and part-time (up 212,800 from 2013). 

The sharpest drops in unemployment were registered in the Valencia region (98,900 fewer jobless claims), Catalonia (83,000) and Madrid (73,200).