Spain's unemployment rate edges up to 23.8 percent one month ahead of key elections

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Spain's unemployment rate edged up slightly to 23.8 percent in the first quarter despite a welcome drop in the number of people out of work.

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The increase reported by the National Statistics Institute is a blow for the conservative government as it prepares for municipal and regional elections next month and general elections by the end of the year.

The rate was 23.7 percent in the previous quarter.

The institute said Thursday there were 13,100 fewer people out of work, making for a rounded total of 5.4 million jobless.

The percentage figure increased because of a drop in the working population.

Unemployment soared in recent years because of the financial crisis but the economy last year resumed steady growth.