Spain's unemployment rate fell to 21.2 percent in the second quarter, its lowest level in four years, official data showed Thursday, in a further sign of recovery in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.
But the rate is still the highest in the eurozone after Greece's and unemployment is a top voter concern as conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy prepares for a tight general election on December 20.
In the busy July to September tourism period, when many Spanish companies take on new staff, the unemployment rate was 21.18 percent, down from 22.37 percent in the previous quarter, the National Statistics Institute said.
The number of people looking for work in Spain fell by 298,200 in the third quarter over the previous quarter to 4.85 million. its lowest level since the second quarter of 2011, the statistics office said.
Spain emerged in 2013 from five years of on-off recession and the government forecasts the economy will grow by 3.3 percent this year -- more than twice the average forecast for eurozone countries.
Rajoy credits new rules adopted in 2012 for making it cheaper for firms to lay off workers and limiting the power of unions to negotiate collective-bargaining agreements across entire industries or regions for the recovery.
But the reforms have cost him voter support. The ruling Popular Party secured an absolute majority four years ago but polls show it is running neck and neck with the main opposition Socialist party.