Spain jobless rate at 18.8 in Q1, halting downward trend

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Official figures show that Spain's unemployment rate edged up slightly to 18.8 percent in the first quarter, interrupting an overall downward trend in recent years.

The National Statistics Institute said Thursday that the number of people out of work rose by 17,200 January through March to a rounded 4.3 million.

The figures contrasted with those of the fourth quarter of 2016 when the rate fell to a seven-year low of 18.6 percent.

The institute said that over the year, the unemployment rate dropped by 2.3 percentage points.

Spain's unemployment peaked at 27 percent in 2013 just before it began to emerge from a tough five-year financial crisis

The country still has the second-highest unemployment rate in the 28-country European Union behind Greece.