Unemployment in Portugal rose to a new record high, to 16.9%, in the last quarter of 2012. In 2011, the figure stood at 14%.
The rate was worse than had been predicted and represented around 920,000 unemployed people officially registered at job centres, which means the number is actually a lot higher.
According to Portugal’s national statistics institute INE, more than one-third of those unemployed had been actively seeking employment for more than two years.
Painting a bleaker picture for 2013, experts believe the jobless rate is likely to reach 17.5%, while Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said he also expected unemployment to rise slightly before it began to ease.
However, he was confident more job opportunities would be on the horizon in the second half of the year with slight economic recovery predicted.
Meanwhile, figures relating to last year’s GDP showed a 3.2% reduction in economic activity. In the last quarter, economic performance in Portugal saw a decline of 3.8%, placing the country in second, after Greece, as having the worst performance levels in Europe.
Fears persist that Portugal may not be able to meet its targets for 2013 if slumping exports do not pick up again soon (see brief story on page 10).