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Spain's jobless edges up in Q1 ahead of new elections

MADRID – Spain’s unemployment rate edged up to 21 per cent in the first quarter from 20.9 per cent the previous quarter — negative economic news as the country looks headed toward its second general election in six months.

The National Statistics Institute said Thursday that the number of people out of work rose by 11,900 January through March to a rounded total of 4.8 million.

The release comes as Spain heads almost certainly toward fresh elections June 26 as the May 2 deadline for a new government to be in place following the inconclusive Dec. 20 election looks set to pass.

The ruling Popular Party made reducing unemployment one of its priorities in government over the past four years but Spain’s unemployment rate remains the second-highest in the European Union after Greece.