Spain's jobless rate falls in fourth quarter to lowest level in 11 years

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in the last quarter of 2019 to 13.78%, a level last seen before the financial crisis hit the country’s workers in 2008, data from the National Statistics Institute showed on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate fell from 13.92% in the previous quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast Spain’s unemployment rate would rise to 14.00%.

Spain’s jobless rate had not been that low since the third quarter of 2008, INE said. The unemployment rate jumped in 2008 as a result of the financial crisis following the bursting of a real estate bubble. The rate has been steadily falling since hitting a peak of almost 27% in early 2013.

The lower unemployment data in the fourth quarter shows the euro zone’s fourth largest economy has remained solid compared to its neighbours in 2019.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Monday that there were signs that the Spanish economy had stabilised towards the end of 2019 after experiencing a summer slowdown, pointing to gross domestic growth likely close to 2% in 2019.

Official growth data is expected on Friday.

Reporting by Joanna Jonczyk-Gwizdala, Inti Landauro and Belen Carreno; Editing by Ingrid Melander; ; +48 58 778 51 10