MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish population rose for the first time since 2011 last year as immigrants poured back in to the country and fewer Spaniards left in the midst of an economic recovery, official data showed on Thursday.
Spain’s population has dropped every year since 2011 after a burst property bubble in 2008 led to a near five-year recession and unemployment soared to 27 percent, dissuading migrants looking for work and sending Spaniards abroad.
The total Spanish population rose to 46.5 million, or by 88,867 people, INE said.
In 2016, 354,461 foreign migrants moved to Spain -- the highest number since 2011 -- up 22.5 percent from a year earlier, while 23,540 more Spaniards moved back to the country than left it, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.
Most immigrants came from Romania, followed by Morocco then Britain, the data showed.
Spain’s economy is expected to increase its pace of expansion in the second quarter from a quarter earlier, the Bank of Spain said on Thursday, on stronger domestic demand and rising employment.
Seasonal jobs are a large part of the Spanish economy due to the busy tourist season and an active agricultural sector, with both attracting thousands of foreign workers every year. Construction, which plummeted during the economic slump but has since re-emerged as a key driver, also employs heavily amongst foreigners.
Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Angus MacSwan