Spain's unemployment rate has dropped to 18.9 percent in the third quarter from 20 percent in the previous three-month period, the lowest rate in six years and welcome news for acting premier Mariano Rajoy as he looks to begin a second term in office this week.

The National Statistics Institute said Thursday the number of people out of work fell by 253,900 July through September to a rounded total of 4.3 million.

Reducing the unemployment rate, the second highest in the European Union after Greece's, had been one of Rajoy's main promises in government since 2011.

Head of the conservative Popular Party, Rajoy is virtually guaranteed to win Parliament's approval to form a minority government Saturday and end a 10-month political deadlock following two inconclusive elections.