Madrid.—The number of people registering for jobless benefits in Spain fell by 64'309, or 1.5 percent, from March to 4.27 million, the Ministry for Employment in Madrid said yesterday.

Spain's unemployment rate stood at 21 percent at the end of March, the highest in Europe and three times as high as the rate in Germany.
Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said on April 29 that the jobless rate has probably peaked and employment data will improve in the coming months, which coincide with the start of Spain's tourist season.

The doubling of the unemployment rate since the collapse of the decade-long property boom and the deepest budget cuts in at least three decades have eroded support for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who said on April 2 that he won't run for a third term in elections scheduled for 2012.

PP would win
Zapatero called yesterday's news “a very good piece of data.” He also reiterated his expectation that jobless numbers will show further improvement in the second half of the year, as economic growth gathers some pace.

If elections were held now, Spain's opposition People's Party would win 43.8 percent of the vote, compared with 33.4 percent for the ruling party, according to a poll by the state- run Center for Sociological Research published on April 29.