Unemployment reaches half a million

PORTUGAL’S UNEMPLOYMENT rate reached 7.7 per cent of the active working population in the third quarter of 2005. The worrying figures represent 429,900 individuals out of work according to statistics presented by the National Statistics Institute.

The number of jobless confirms the government’s predictions for 2006, with the increase of 30,000 on the dole attributed to women who lost their jobs in the ailing Portuguese textile industry. However, although the largest age group affected remains the 35-45 bracket, 14,000 new claimants were in the 25-34 age bracket.

Concerned by the increase, the Minister of Employment and Social Security, José Vieira da Silva, argued that employment centres can play an important role in reducing the number of unemployed, while making a special effort to persuade companies to take on new and additional employees by the end of the year. “It isn’t up to the state to create jobs, but there are 86 job centres in Portugal which have closer links to companies and are in a better position to help the unemployed,” Vieira da Silva said.

Recently, Lisbon University revealed the results of a study, which analysed the fortunes of former students. It showed that at the start of their careers, there wasn’t a real difference in salaries between men and women, but this position changed over time, with men earning greater salaries and more likely to gain promotional advancement. Average salaries for men in Portugal are 1,106.4 euros per month, while for women the figure stands at 966.73 euros.