* Rate dips to 26.3 percent in second quarter from 27.2 in
* Tourism a big factor, but core data better than expected
* Adds weight to government assertion that economy may have
MADRID, July 24 Spain's unemployment rate
unexpectedly fell for the first time in two years in the second
quarter, adding weight to the government's contention that the
worst of the country's economic slump may be over.
A strong tourist season helped the unemployment rate dip to
26.3 percent from 27.2 percent in the first quarter, the
National Statistics Institute said on Thursday,
That left 5.98 million people out of work - a far greater
proportion of the population that every other euro zone country
bar Greece - but the drop was the first since the same period of
"Almost all the improvement we've seen today, in terms of
the number of people working and the unemployment rate, is due
to seasonal factors," Angel Laborda, economist at think tank
Tourism accounts for around 10 percent of Spanish gross
domestic product and is expected to be strong this year as
cash-strapped Europeans look for budget vacations away from
Egypt and other Middle Eastern troublespots.
"Having said that, even seasonally adjusted data is better
than we expected which is in line with the economic improvements
forecast by the Bank of Spain earlier in the week," Laborda
The central bank said on Tuesday the economy shrank just 0.1
percent quarter on quarter between April and June, offering some
support to a government that has talked up prospects of an exit
from recession as soon as the current quarter.
But many economists believe the country's two-year slump,
the second in three years, is unlikely to come to an end this
A major factor behind that more pessimistic view is an
unemployment rate that has surged since a property bubble burst
in 2008, with some 3.8 million people joining the jobless lines
since the first quarter of that year.
Thursday's drop in unemployment was unexpected by economists
polled by Reuters, who forecast a slight rise.
But the improved figure masks a deep structural problem -
that of long-term unemployment.
Around half of the near six million out of work in Spain
have not held a job for more than a year, while the number of
homes with no one in work stood at 1.8 million, the data showed.
After a decade of above average economic growth, the
prolonged recession prompted hundreds of thousands to leave the
country in the 2012, including immigrants returning home and
Spaniards in search of work elsewhere.