JOBLESS figures in Spain fell more than ever before in history during 2015, which closed with just under 4.04 million on the dole, of whom 55,800 had de-registered in December alone.
This translates as exactly 354,203 fewer people signing on as at the end of 2015, compared with numbers from the end of 2014.
According to the ministry of employment and social security, this represents the greatest fall in unemployment since records began in 1996.
Reductions in jobless numbers in December, when the Christmas campaign starts, have been consistently increasing over the last four years with more and more new staff being taken on to work the festive season in shops, bars and hotels.
And the number of workers now signed up to the social security – meaning they are now paying their national insurance 'stamp' through having a job or being self-employed – rose in 2015 by over half a million, or 3.18%.
In December, a total of 85,314 workers registered on the social security either through their employer or through being self-employed – a rise of 0.5% - bringing the annual increase to 533,186 and leaving the year-end total at nearly 17.31 million.
A fall in dole benefits paid out was seen year-on-year in November 2015, with 55.3% of registered unemployed persons receiving payment compared with 57.9% in November 2014.
Dole money is contributory in Spain, with one month paid per four months of work accumulated since the last time the employee had to claim, and capped at two years.
This means anyone who does not find a job before their accumulated period expires ceases to receive any benefit, although the State pays €425 a month for means-tested cases with no other source of income.
For those still able to claim dole money, the average amount paid per month in 2015 was €793.10, falling from €802.50 from November 2014, or by 1.2%.
Dole money is paid at 80% of the worker's previous gross salary for the first six months, then 60% of his or her salary thereafter until the benefit entitlement runs out.
In more affluent times, this meant redundant workers had time to come to terms with their ordeal and search carefully for the right job, without having to worry about covering their living costs in the meantime.
It also meant nobody would take advantage and 'live off benefits' instead of searching for work, because they knew that once their entitlement had expired, they would not get any more money until they had accumulated further dole pay through a job.
Since the start of the financial crisis, however, the two-year maximum has not always been long enough for redundant workers to find a new job of any description – especially those living in areas which rely on summer tourism for their income and where work is purely seasonal, mostly in restaurants, bars and hotels.