Madrid (AFP) - The number of registered unemployed fell in Spain fell for the fourth straight month in May, government data showed Tuesday, a further sign the economy is improving even though nearly one in four remain out of work.
Jobless claims declined last month by 117,985 or 2.7 percent to 4.21 million, the labour ministry said in a statement.
On a seasonally adjusted basis the number of registered unemployed fell by 34,160.
May is traditionally a relatively strong month for the Spanish jobs market, as retailers, restaurants and other service providers bolster their staff ahead of the summer tourist season.
The number of registered unemployed was down by 357,354 or 7.8 percent over May 2014, the biggest yearly drop since the current statistical series began in 1996, the ministry said.
The number of people without work fell across all sectors and in every region.
"There is still much to do. There are over four million Spaniards who still can't work," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after the figures were released.
"The situation is not good but we have taken steps forward," he added.
The labour ministry's monthly figure is a different measure from the quarterly unemployment rate, which is based on surveys and stood at 23.78 percent in the first quarter, according to the National Statistic Institute.
The institute, which includes in its estimate other job seekers who are not signed on for benefits, said there were 5.44 million unemployed in Spain at the end of March.
Spain returned to growth in 2014 with an expansion of 1.4 percent after five years of recession or stagnation following the collapse of a building boom in 2008.
Spain's conservative government, which is facing a year-end general election, earlier this year hiked its economic growth forecast to 2.9 percent for 2015 and 2016, a prediction unions said was too optimistic.
It had previously expected growth to reach 2.4 percent in 2015.
The government forecast the unemployment rate would fall to 22.1 percent in 2015.