Tourists in Madrid. | Lucas Tarancón


The number of people in Spain registering as jobless reached 4 million in February, official data showed on Tuesday, as COVID-19 restrictions ravaged the ailing economy and led to the the first month of job destruction since last May.

Jobless claims rose by 1.12% from a month earlier, or by 44,436 people, leaving 4 million people out of work for the first time since early 2016, Labour Ministry data showed, and marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase in unemployment.

The number of unemployed people was 23.5% higher than in February 2020.

"The rise in unemployment, caused by the third wave, is bad news, reflecting the structural flaws of the labour market that are accentuated by the pandemic," Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz tweeted.

February was also the first month of net job destruction since May 2020, with Spain losing some 30,211 positions over the month, seasonally adjusted data from the Social Security Ministry showed.

But the number of people supported by Spain's ERTE furlough scheme fell by nearly 29,000 to 899,383.

"These figures have remained more or less stable since September, indicating that the second and third waves of the pandemic have had a much smaller effect than the first in this regard," the ministry said in a statement.