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High unemployment set to remain admits government

Unemployment levels in Portugal are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, the government admits.

The admission, made by the Secretary of State for Employment and Professional Training, Valter Lemos, follows the release of the latest jobless statistics for Portugal from the European Union’s statistical department Eurostat.

According to Eurostat, total unemployment figures gathered in April but relating to March 2011 had soared to 12.6%.

However, Valter Lemos stressed that the unemployment situation in Portugal was “stabilising”.

He said that there had been some increase in the first quarter of 2011 and that rates had remained high, but pointed out that some sectors of the economy were showing some improvement such as footwear, the car industry, textiles, metal-mechanics and agriculture.

“In these sectors there simply isn’t enough manpower to meet requirements whereby efforts are being stepped up to retrain personnel,” he added.

But Valter Lemos admitted that there wasn’t sufficient growth in the economy to create new jobs which was why not all sectors had vacancies to fill.

“There have been changes in our economy where the sectors that are exporting abroad are gaining pre-eminence while others are losing out such as commerce and construction,” the minister said.

He also warned that a significant drop in unemployment was not likely soon: “We know that in the near future there will be some difficulties due to the need to apply the measures agreed with the ‘Troika’.”