* Dip of 1.2 pct is first monthly fall since July - Labour
* 4.8 million people out of work in Spain
* Data viewed as less reliable than unemployment rate
MADRID, Jan 3 The number of people out of work
in Spain fell by 1.2 percent in December, labour ministry data
showed, marking the first monthly decline since July as the
service sector stepped up hiring in the run-up to Christmas.
Thursday's data means 4.8 million people are unemployed in
the euro zone's fourth-biggest economy.
The monthly figure records the number of Spaniards
registered as out of work, and is considered less reliable than
the country's official unemployment rate.
That rate hit a record 25 percent in the third quarter to
September, the highest since the Franco dictatorship ended in
The only comparable level in the euro zone is in Greece
which, in recession for six years, recorded a monthly
unemployment rate of 26 percent in September.
Spain's economy is also contracting under the weight of 60
billion euros ($79 billion) worth of budget cuts, and expected
to dip 1.5 percent this year - likely leaving even more people
out of work
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government, under pressure to
meet budget deficit targets, has also shaken up working
regulations to make it easier to hire and fire people.