The number of Spaniards out of work fell below four million in the second quarter of 2017, to 3.91 million people, according to the National Statistics Institute's (INE) Active Population Survey, one of two measures of unemployment used in the country.

The new unemployment rate is 17.22%.

It is the first time the jobless total has fallen below four million people since the first quarter of 2009.

The INE said 375,000 jobs had been created in the second quarter of the year, most of them (345,100) in the private sector.

Two-thirds of the jobs were temporary positions created in the services sector, which includes tourism.

So while unemployment always falls in the second quarter of the year in Spain, as businesses gear up for the tourism season, 2017's fall is the largest second-quarter drop in the past seven years.

At the end of June, the Energy, Tourism & Digital Agenda Ministry said it was expecting a 9% increase in the number of visitors to Spanish holiday destinations this year.

In the first five months of the year to May, 28 million foreign tourists travelled to the country, an increase of 11.6% compared to the previous year.

In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Spain's Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, said he hoped the unemployment rate would be below 17% by the end of the year.

The worst point during the economic crisis was the first quarter of 2013, a year after Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party won power, when 6.3 million Spaniards (26.9%) said they could not find work.

The lowest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the century in Spain was in the second quarter of 2007, when it dropped as low as 7.9%, prior to the start of the economic crisis and after several years of construction and real-estate activity.