The number of registered unemployed in Spain fell by 59,094 people in December relative to the previous month, the Employment and Social Security Ministry reported Thursday.

Although the December drop in unemployment was the largest-ever for that month, the number of registered jobless at the end of last year still rose to 4,848,723 people, up 9.64 percent compared to the close of 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of Social Security contributors fell last year by 787,240 people to 16,442,681, the lowest figure since 2003, the ministry said.

The decline in the number of registered unemployed in December was mainly attributable to job gains in the services and agriculture sectors, while joblessness rose in construction and industry.

The ministry's figure reflects the number of people registered as jobless at public employment offices and is lower than the number compiled through the National Statistics Institute's quarterly employment survey.

That latter agency's third-quarter survey - published on Oct. 26 - counted a total of 5,778,100 unemployed Spaniards, or a record 25.02 percent of the workforce.

Currently in the grips of a double-dip recession, Spain was battered by the collapse of a long-building housing bubble that had made the country's economy the envy of most of Madrid's European partners. EFE