Spanish unemployment

Spanish unemployment declined for the first time in two years, which supports Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's view that the economy is on the path to recovery.

The country's jobless rate declined to 26.3% in the second quarter, from 27.2% in the previous period, according to the National Statistics Institute.

Economists expected an unemployment rate of 27.2%.

The data shows the first drop in the jobless rate since the second quarter of 2011. The number of jobless people amounted to 5.98 million at the end of the quarter.

Spain has experienced a steady decline in employment following a property bubble burst in 2008. About 3.8 million people became jobless since the first quarter of that year.

The country now has the second-highest level of unemployment in Europe, following Greece's jobless rate of 26.9% in April.

The decline in unemployment rate in the second quarter was primarily due to a strong tourist season.

Tourism, which represents around 10% of Spanish gross domestic product (GDP), is expected to be strong this year as crisis-hit Europeans search for budget tourist spots.

Economic Recovery

While many economists say that the country is unlikely to move out of recession this year, the Rajoy-led government believes that the deep economic slump may be bottoming out on the back of resurging exports.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Spain backed the view that the Spanish economy, the fourth-largest in the eurozone, is close to a recovery.

Spain has experienced two recessions in last three years and the last one has lasted for 18 months.

The prolonged recession prompted hundreds of thousands of residents to leave the country in 2012. Immigrants returned home, while Spaniards went out in search of work.

In 2012, the economy contracted by 1.37%, its second worst performance since 1970. The government expects the economy to shrink between 1.0% and 1.5% in 2013.

Spain had the largest budget deficit in the European Union last year, after the country received bailout funds to save its banking industry that was hit by soaring bad loans.

It has until 2016 to bring back public spending to the EU limit of 3% of GDP. In 2012, the public spending amounted to 10.6% of GDP.