Spain’s unemployed hit four million in February as pandemic restrictions increased

© Reuters. A man prepares to hang an “Available” sign outside a bar and coffee house that has ceased operations during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid

(Reuters) – The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain hit 4 million in February, official data showed on Tuesday as COVID-19 restrictions ravaged the troubled economy, leading to the first month of job destruction since last May.

Unemployment claims rose by 1.12% or 44,436 people compared to the previous month. For the first time since the beginning of 2016, 4 million people were unemployed. This, according to data from the Department of Labor, marks the fifth consecutive monthly increase in unemployment.

The number of unemployed was 23.5% higher than in February 2020.

“The rise in unemployment caused by the third wave is bad news and reflects the structural imperfections in the labor market that are exacerbated by the pandemic,” Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz tweeted.

February was also the first month of net job destruction since May 2020. Spain lost around 30,211 jobs during the month, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Ministry of Social Security.

However, the number of people supported by the Spanish ERTE holiday program fell by almost 29,000 to 899,383.

“These numbers have remained more or less stable since September, suggesting that the second and third waves of the pandemic had a much smaller effect than the first in this regard,” the ministry said in a statement.

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