THe Balearics was the only region in Spain where unemployment dropped in January. The number of jobless registered at the unemployment exchange (Inem) in the Balearics in January was 392 lower than the previous month. The total number of jobless was 36'364, representing 8.51 per cent of the work force. According to figures from the ministry of labour, in relative terms, the drop was 1.07 per cent over December, while unemployment in the same period rose by an average of 3.21 per cent throughout Spain. Unemployment in the islands is now one percentage point lower than the national average. But compared with January 2002, unemployment figures show a nine per cent rise (3'033 persons more). The January work pattern has been irregular over the past three years, recording an 0.02 per cent in 2000, a 2.31 rise in 2001, and a 1.67 per cent increase in 2002. It is men who have benefitted most from the drop in unemployment. At the end of January there were 15'847 men out of work, 522 fewer than December. But the number of women without a job rose by 130 to 20'517 compared to December. The male unemployment rate was 6.42 per cent of the work force, and the female rate 11.37 per cent. It was construction workers who fared best, with unemployment in the sector down by nearly eight per cent. The number of people seeking their first jobs also dropped by two per cent, but there were slight increases in agriculture and industry. Pere Mascaró, the director of the Balearic employment office, said that the trend was positive, although the fact that despite the drop in unemployment there are still 36'365 people out of work is not good news. He said that the Balearic ministry of labour was promoting active policies to create more jobs. Another trend in the employment sector is the creation of cooperatives, which have tripled in the past three years. A total of 48 were created in the period 2000-2003.