Unemployement in the Balearics fell during the second quarter, in line with the general trend across Spain. The number of people out of work in the islands dropped by 7.400, 6.65 per cent of the active population. At the end of June, the total number of jobless in the Balearics was 27.200, nearly 22 per cent less than at the start of April. But while 26.100 new jobs were created during the first six months of the this year in the Balearics, the unemployment rate is currently 18.56 per cent higher than last year. The drop in Spanish unemployment was in fact much sharper than economists had expected, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said yesterday. Its data showed the jobless rate, the highest in the European Union, fell to 11.1 percent, from 11.5 percent in the first three months of the year, when the rate surged by a full percentage point. The average forecast of economists polled had called for nonseasonally adjusted unemployment to drop to 11.3 percent in the second quarter, with forecasts ranging from 11.1 to 11.7 percent. The jobless total fell by 54'800 to 2.03 million, INE said. The number of people with jobs rose by 185'200 to a record 16.2 million, beating the previous high of 16.1 million set in the fourth quarter of last year. INE said the secondquarter figures showed a positive general trend in the labour market in Spain, whose previously thriving economy has been hit by the international economic slowdown. The number of people in jobs had resumed the growth trend that began in 1995 and was only broken by a dip in the first quarter of this year, INE said. The unemployment rate among women 16.3 percent in the second quarter was more than twice that among men at 7.7 percent, the survey showed. Spain's chambers of commerce, representing employers, said the data reflected a positive panorama for the Spanish labour market. They said they hoped job creation would improve further in the coming months. The Spanish figures contrasted with those in the euro zone's biggest economy, Germany, where unadjusted unemployment rose above the politically sensitive four million level in July. Economists cautiously welcomed the Spanish figures. In principle, it's a good piece of data because the unemployment rate fell more than expected, said Laura Rambaud, an economist with brokers Eurodeal. It seems that labour market conditions are improving.