MADRID, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Spain saw its biggest quarterly increase in the number of unemployed people since 2012 in the July-September period, as its tourism-dependent economy was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
But in a sign of how volatile the job market is, a record number of people also found a job in the third quarter.
All in all, the unemployment rate rose more than expected, climbing to 16.26% from 15.33% in the second quarter. Economist polled by Reuters had forecast a 15.9% rise.
This does not include furloughed workers and other people who do not meet certain technical criteria, meaning the true figure could be significantly higher.
Spain had one of the toughest lockdowns in Europe in the second quarter, leading its economy to the biggest crash on the continent.
In mid-June, the toughest measures were lifted and the holiday season got off to a tentative start but this was cut short just a month later with a second wave of infections.
The latest data from the INE statistics office showed some 355,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed, bringing the total to 3.72 million, as jobs created in the paltry summer season were not enough to compensate for the gloomy state of the economy.
At the same time, the need for workers in public services to start the school year, together with temporary service contracts, helped push the number of workers who found a job in the same period to a quarterly record figure of almost 570,000
The Spanish economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for almost 12% of employment. Two of its key touristic destinations, the Canary and Balearic Islands, are the two areas that lost most jobs compared to the same period last year.
A new state of emergency decree approved on Sunday imposed a nightly curfew and other restrictive measures are being taken such as closing bars and restaurants in Catalonia.
According to official forecasts, the economy will fall by 11.2% in 2020, and grow by 7.2% in 2021, but analysts have warned that the new measures to fight the pandemic could hit the economy even harder.
Spain is one of Europe’s worst hotspots, with nearly 1.1 million infected and over 35,000 dead. (Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, Belen Carreno, Nathan Allen Editing by Ingrid Melander & Simon Cameron-Moore)
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