(Reuters) – Spanish unemployment rose in January-March for the first time since the third quarter of 2020, raising concerns that an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic may be faltering.
Unemployment edged up to 13.65% in the first quarter from 13.33% in the previous three-month period – its lowest level since 2008 – data on Thursday from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed.
Last year, unemployment stood at 15.98% in the first quarter.
The rate had been falling steadily from a peak of 16.26% in the third quarter of 2020, in tandem with a global rebound from the economic shock of the pandemic, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequent inflationary pressures on energy and food prices have put the brakes on global growth.
In Spain, higher fuel prices prompted truckers to walk out for several weeks during the quarter, disrupting supply chains and forcing some factories to halt production.
Despite the uptick in joblessness, some 20.1 million Spaniards were fully employed, around 100,200 fewer than the previous quarter but still a level not seen since before the global financial crisis.
Some 92% of the jobs lost over the quarter were in the private sector, with the remainder in the public sector, the INE said. The industrial, services and agriculture sectors accounted for the bulk of the losses.
Tourist magnets Catalonia, Andalusia and the Canary Islands suffered the greatest number of job losses.
Still, the INE stressed more than 878,000 jobs had been created over the last 12 months.
(Reporting by Joao Manuel Mauricio in Gdansk, Christina Thykjaer in Madrid, editing by Inti Landauro and Kim Coghill)