Spain*s quarterly jobless figure drops to 23.7 percent as economy recovery gathers pace

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MADRID — Spain's unemployment rate dropped to 23.7 percent in the third quarter from 24.5 percent in the previous three-month period thanks to a recovering economy and a bumper summer tourism season, official statistics showed Thursday.

The number of jobless people fell by 195,200 July through September, leaving the total number of unemployed at a rounded 5.4 million, Spain's statistics institute said. That's down from 5.6 million in the second quarter.

Most new jobs were created in the services sector, which includes jobs in the country's key tourism industry.

Madrid was the strongest job gainer with the No. 2 and No. 3 spots going to Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, two of Spain's top holiday destination areas.

Spain received 31 million foreign tourists in the three-month period, up 8.1 percent on 2013. Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria said it was the best summer for foreign visitors on record.

Of the 151,000 new jobs, 122,400 were temporary contracts, while the number of permanent contracts dropped by 26,700, the statistics institute said. It said that 274,000 jobs had been created over the past 12 months, an increase of 1.6 percent on the previous 12-month period.

Spain is recovering from two recessions, the last of which ended in late 2013. The economy has expanded in each of the past four quarters and the government predicts it will grow by 1.3 percent over the year.

It also expects a six-year run of job destruction to end in 2015 with the creation of 622,000 jobs.

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