A total of 420,150 people moved out of Spain in the first nine months of this year, including 54,912 Spanish citizens, the National Statistics Institute, or INE, said Monday.

The figures show that in the first nine months of this year, 37,539 more people left Spain than during the same period in 2011, that increase being primarily due to the emigration of Spanish citizens.

The number of Spaniards emigrating increased by 21.6 percent, or 54,912 people, surpassing the 45,161 people who left between January and September 2011, according to INE estimates.

A total of 137,628 more people left Spain than entered the country in the first nine months of 2012.

That figure had been positive - meaning that more people were entering the country than leaving - in 2009 and 2010, but in 2011 it turned negative, with 50,090 leaving.

Between January 2011 and September 2012, 927,890 people, including 117,523 Spaniards, emigrated from Spain.

According to the INE, in the past 12 months, the Spanish population has fallen by 45,245.

Spain has been going through a deep economic crisis since 2008 that has caused the destruction of a large number of jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to nearly 25 percent overall and above 50 percent among youth.

The scarcity of jobs has spurred many Spanish citizens, above all young people, to emigrate to other countries and it also has motivated many non-Spaniards who had immigrated to Spain over the last 15 years to return to their countries of origin.

The reduction of foreigners is also having an impact in Spanish classrooms, where the number of foreign students has stabilized for the first time at around 781,000, Education Minister Jose Ignacio Wert said Monday. EFE