people in the streets

Almost quarter of a million young people in Portugal at risk of poverty/ social exclusion

Youth unemployment in Portugal running at 19%

Just as the country is being flooded with jubilant young people from almost every country of the world, Portugal’s contemporary database (Pordata) has delivered a touch of irony: this week’s Roman Catholic fest is taking place in a country where almost a quarter of a million young people are living extremely difficult lives – either at risk of poverty or social exclusion, or essentially already there.

The official figure for Portuguese young people at risk is 246,000 – only 25,000 of whom receive the social subsidy for inclusion, and only 5,000 of whom are receiving unemployment benefit.

The snapshot revealed by Pordata shows that the youngest workers receive the least pay. The average salary for 18-24-year-olds in 2022, for example was €948.80 gross. According to reports, that is 27% less (€345.30) than the national average. Young people living in the metropolitan area of Lisbon earn the most (€1,035.60 average), but this still puts them at a clear disadvantage versus other workers’ salaries in the same region (earning an average of another €527.20.

In a European context, Portugal is the country where young people earn the 2nd lowest salaries of the bloc: roughly 36% less than young people earning in the other 27 member States.

When it comes to university qualifications, 30% of the youth in Portugal have degrees, while another 60% have completed the 12 years of obligatory education. But even so, only 30% of the country’s youth are considered to be “active in the job market”. This is because 57% are employed on precarious, short-term contracts, and 19% are without work. Any discrepancy between the 19% without work, and those receiving unemployment benefit, comes because unemployment benefit is only paid for a short-term.

Pordata’s findings continue with the dismal 95% statistic, relating to the numbers of young people who remain living with their parents (because of the cost of living/ lack of affordable accommodation/ low salaries) until their 30s.

In 2004, this percentage stood at (only) 84%.

Says Correio da Manhã today, Portugal is the 4th country in the European Union with the most young people still living ‘at home.

SIC Notícias refers to the comment by Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation (FFMS), Gonçalo Saraiva Martins, who explains that “in the last decade, there has been a very large increase in housing prices and a decrease in supply. Faced with a scenario of precarious jobs, poorly paid jobs, and a very large increase in housing prices, it is evident that the number of young people living with their parents increases and the ability of young people to leave home early decreases”.

It is not through want of qualifications. These, comparatively speaking, are high in Portugal, it is simply that there are not the opportunities available once young people gain these qualifications, hence the reason so many emigrate.

“The country offers training opportunities, which young people take advantage of, but it then cannot offer opportunities in the labour market”, explains Saraiva Martins.

The quandary is tied to the failure of successive governments to create housing policies directed at young people. It’s not a failure that shows any signs of being adequately corrected.

On the plus side, the statistics reveal that ”practically half (48%)” of Portugal’s young people do not drink alcohol; 88% do not smoke; more than a third engage in physical exercise at least four times a week – and seven out of 10 consider themselves to be Catholic.

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