Rajoy sees hope for Spain in jobless figures

MADRID (Reuters) - Jobless figures to be released next week in Spain will be encouraging and the recession-hit country has started to turn a corner, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday.

"I'm not counting chickens here, however I recommend that you pay attention to unemployment and social security numbers on Tuesday the 4th ... If the patterns we've seen are confirmed they will be clearly encouraging," Rajoy said at an economic conference.

Spain's unemployment rate currently stands at 27 percent, with more than half of under 25-year-olds out of work. Economists have forecast joblessness to rise further this year due to a long recession that has depressed consumption and frozen hiring.

Rajoy said Spain had left the worst of its crisis behind and unemployment was slowing. He added the centre-right government hoped to lower taxes as soon as possible and could cut income tax in 2015.

He also repeated a call for Europe to do more to move quickly towards the fiscal and political union needed to calm financial markets and guarantee the future of the euro. "We aren't growing because Europe isn't growing," Rajoy said.

Protests against the "troika" of international lenders that has bailed out struggling euro zone states - the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union - were planned in several countries on Saturday.

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Catherine Evans)