Staff Reporter
THE number of unemployed registered in Balearic benefit offices at the end of March this year fell by 1'995 in comparison with the previous month of February, leaving current figures standing at 34'073. This total represents 8.03 percent of the work force, more than one point below the national average, 9.18 percent.
Furthermore, for the first time in 3 years, reports show a fall in the year-on-year numbers; that is to say that the number of unemployed on the Islands during the month of March 2004 fell by 188 in respect of the same month the previous year. The regional ministry for Employment and Training spokesman commented positively yesterday on the “first downturn in year-on-year unemployment figures in the Archipelago for the last 3.5 years”, a fall of 0.5 percent. He confirmed that this statistic showed the “slowing down” of the growth in unemployment figures which had risen over the last few months. The Balearic government warned, however, that these levels should be looked at cautiously since Easter this year will be celebrated earlier than in 2003. Last month's unemployment figure for men stood at 15'069, a fall on the previous month of 983 (-6.12%); while that for women stood at 19'004, a decrease of 1'012 (-2.24%) on February. In comparison with March 2003, male unemployment rose by 625 and female by 813. At the end of last month, the rate of male unemployment in the region stood at 6.13% and the female at 10.66%. According to sector, variations in unemployment levels registered as follows: in Agriculture, it rose by 14 (7.33%); in Industry, by 4 (0.20%); in Construction, the level fell by 92 unemployed (-2.24%); in the Service industry, there was a fall of 2'088 (-7.26%); and in the group who had never held previous employment, there were 167 extra people claiming benefit (16.14%). The General Workers Union in the Balearics (UGT) described yesterday's report showing the fall in March unemployment as “positive”. Nevertheless, they pointed to the fact the rise was due to more temporary and unsecured contracts being signed.

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