Unemployment in Spain has fallen for the second month in a row (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The number of people registered with the public social security system (INEM) went down by 79,701, making a total of 4.18 million now looking for work here. This is a reduction of 1.87 percent compared to April, announced the Employment and Immigration ministry today, and represents the second biggest decline in unemployed figures since May 2006. The secretary of state for Employment, Mari Luz Rodríguez, said it was positive news and would encourage the government to keep working because there are still many people out of work who need help to return to the labour market. She added that the reduction in those looking for a job was "generalised", affecting men as much as women, all age groups and sectors.
The board of directors of FC Barcelona has announced a series of budget cuts for the club (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). None of the announced savings will affect the first football team—"We will carry out the operations requested by our training staff, despite the forecast deficit of €21 million," said spokesman Toni Freixa—but they will have repercussions for other teams within the organisation; for instance, the baseball team will cease to exist. The club is claiming that "economic sustainability" is to blame for the cuts, which will also help them strengthen the football first eleven. Measures will be introduced to try and raise more money including making season ticket-holders pay for the Supercopa against Real Madrid in August, a match that was previously included in the cost of the ticket, increasing the cost of car parking at the stadium by 50 percent and improving the functionality of the 'free seat' system (seient lliure, by which season ticket-holders can 'sell off' their seat for any match that they are not planning to attend). The board have identified three different types of ticket-holders according to the percentage of matches for which they have sold their seats in recent seasons: those who sell them for between 75 and 100 percent of matches (25,000 people), and will now be able to benefit from commercial advantages; those who rarely sell their seat (20,000 ticket-holders) who will be given extra help in the event they do want to free them up; and those who neither go to matches or free up their seat—to these people it will be proposed that the seat is made always available to the club to sell on, unless the ticket-holder notifies it up to 72 hours in advance that they want to go to a match.
The Spanish deputy prime minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba met with Catalan president Artur Mas last week to seek a pact with Convergència i Unió (CiU) to support the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) for the remainder of the current parliament before next year's general elections (read article in Catalan here, Avui). On May 25th, the day before Carme Chacón announced that she would not be running to replace José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the head of the PSOE making it increasingly likely that Rubalcaba will step into the role, Mas, Rubalcaba and Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida (who heads the CiU group in the Spanish congress) met at the Casa dels Canonges, the official residency of the Catalan president. Rubalcaba was seeking CiU support in an attempt to ensure stability through the remainder of the parliamentary session, which is due to end in March 2012. In particular, he was seeking support for the 2012 Spanish budgets, which is necessary to avoid being forced to call early elections and thus enable the Socialists to try and win back ground from the Partido Popular (PP) over the next 10 months, following their thrashing by the PP in the recent municipal and autonomous community elections. However, in the first instance, the CiU said that it wasn't willing to vote in favour of the budgets. Discussions followed on various subjects that have caused dispute between the Catalan and Spanish governments in recent times, including money owed to the former from a competitiveness fund, the management of El Prat airport and investment in train services here.