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Portugal loses 460,000 jobs since 2007

by CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

Portugal has lost 460,000 jobs since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007.

In 10 years, the unemployment rate has more than tripled and now affects more than one million people in a country where five million are of employable age.

Unemployment among young people has soared to 35.4%, reaching its highest level ever.

Overall, Portugal started off 2012 with a public and private debt level without precedent and in the middle of the most serious economic recession the country has known in modern times.

Since the crisis began, 60,000 have already left the country in search of opportunities in Brazil, Angola and Europe.

Just one day after the troika arrived in Lisbon to carry out a further evaluation on Portugal’s progress in reforming and restructuring its public services and debt, the Portuguese National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed that the effects of the crisis and austerity measures were decimating jobs in the country.

In the last quarter of 2011, the jobless rate reached 14%, the highest ever registered, standing at an official 771,000 people. However, the real figure is likely to be higher, at over one million people – a far cry from the situation in 2001 when the unemployment rate stood at 4.1%. Regions such as the Algarve were worst hit. The Algarve, because of its seasonal tourist-led economy is suffering a 17.5% unemployment rate.

The Azores, too, has high number out of work (15.1%) while Madeira, an island heavily dependent on tourism and the public sector, now has 13.5% unemployed.

The industrial north, noted for its textile and footwear industries, has a 14.1% jobless rate while Lisbon, normally protected from high levels of unemployment had more (14.7%) than in the Alentejo (13.1 per cent).

But the stark reality is even more dramatic: if the number of people who are out of work but have not registered at a social security office or employment centre are taken into account, then an extra 203,000 can be added to the official jobless statistics of 7771,000.

And the figures would be even higher if the number of those who have already emigrated over the past five years are taken into account – an estimated 300,000, including foreign nationals such as Brazilians, Angolans and Ukrainians who left the country as the recession started to bite.

That means the number of jobs lost to the Portuguese economy because of unemployment or emigration could stand as high as 1.3 million.

On top of that there are an estimated 83,000 who aren’t even trying to look for work because they realise there is no room in the market place or there aren’t jobs available to suit their qualifications.

Unofficial figures put the unemployment rate in Portugal at 18.2% while official figures from the government set it at 13.4%, the IMF (13.7%) and the EU (13.8% for 2012).

The main problem according to economists is the situation affecting Portuguese companies, many of them suffocated by cash-flow problems and accessing bank credit.

From the third quarter of 2008 to the last quarter of 2011, the economy lost more than 460,000 jobs, 130,000 of which were lost last year.

The situation became worse in the second half of 2011, affecting men overall (76,000), younger people (the employed population between 15 and 43 shrank by 75,000), those with only secondary education (187,000 have lost their jobs), and fixed contracts (nearly 49,000).

Industry and construction were the sectors that most suffered, having lost 62,000 jobs in the space of a year.

The services sector has also suffered, particularly commercial, hotel and catering.

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