Spain's number of registered jobless dropped in May, data from the Labour Ministry showed on Tuesday (June 4).

The figure, which does not include long-term unemployed, fell by 1.97 percent in May from a month earlier, or by 98,265 people, leaving 4.89 million people out of work.

However, once seasonal factors such as holiday hires by hotels and harvests were taken into account, the number of registered jobless fell by only 265 people from the previous month, the data showed.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, after Greece, and even if the country pulls out of recession next year as economists forecast, job creation could lag for some time longer.

The National Statistics Institute, which polls registered and non-registered unemployed to produce a separate figure on Spanish unemployment, showed that 27 percent, or 6.2 million people, were out of work in the first quarter..

More than a tenth of Spain's workforce has been out of work for a year or more. Unemployment benefit stops after two years. After this period, some people can qualify for a 426 euro benefit.

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said earlier this month that it expected Spain's unemployment rate to peak at 28.5 percent in the first quarter of next year as government measures like wage-setting reforms took effect and a contraction in industrial output reached its limit.

However, it warned that the depth of the recession meant more older, highly-educated people were losing their jobs with a possible knock-on effect on mortgage defaults, as this sector of the population was more likely to include home-owners.

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