The are 401,000 more people out of work since the first restrictions were introduced last March. | Josep Bagur Gomila

0

The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain fell for the first time in six months in March, official data showed on Tuesday as the easing of restrictions to curb a third wave of coronavirus helped boost economic activity.

Jobless claims fell by 1.48% in March from a month earlier, or by 59,149 people, leaving 3.95 million people out of work, data from the Labour Ministry showed.

"Our country is still going through a very tough time, but this reduction in unemployment is a positive sign," Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz tweeted.

Unemployment had been climbing steadily since September, and rose above four million people for the first time in five years in February, as curbs on movement and business opening hours hobbled the flagging labour market.

In seasonally adjusted terms, some 45,438 jobs were lost in March - around half in the agriculture sector - marking the second straight month of net job destruction.

After a year of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain's economy is feeling the strain, with 401,000 more people out of work since the first restrictions were introduced last March.

Nearly 750,000 people are being supported by the government's ERTE furlough scheme.