(MENAFN - AFP) Spain's jobless queue shrank in December but numbers were still up sharply over the past year of biting recession, hovering near five million people, government figures showed Thursday.
The number of people registered as unemployed in the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy fell by 59,094, or 1.2 percent, to 4.85 million in the month to December, the Labour Ministry said.
Over the year, however, the ranks of jobless surged by 426,364 people, or 9.64 percent.
When adjusted to smooth out seasonal blips, Spain's jobless numbers were down by 41,023 people to 4.853 million over the month, the ministry said.
Spain's economy has been shrinking for 15 months and the government is expecting the recession to carry on throughout 2013 and then to release its grip in 2014.
A broader, quarterly household survey by the National Statistics Institute provides the official unemployment rate, which hit 25 percent in the third quarter for the first time in modern Spanish history.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's right-leaning government is forecasting an end-2012 unemployment rate of 24.6 percent, with a decline to 23.3 percent in 2013.