Economist Eugénio Rosa has spoken out against what he claims is the manipulation of Portugal’s employment figures.
While the Ministry for Social Security has revealed that there are 129,200 less people receiving unemployment benefit this year than last – representing a saving of €500 million for the government – Rosa claims the reality is that these people dropped off the list not because they found work but because their time allowed for benefit had expired.
Unemployment benefit in Portugal is only given for periods ranging from six months to three years – depending how long a contract the claimant had before losing his or her job.
Reading the statistics his way, Rosa said he had no doubt that the reduction in government subsidies “resulted from the large number of unemployed people who had exhausted their eligibility for benefit”.
Talking to newspapers, the economist for CGTP (the confederation of Portuguese trade unions) said unemployment figures only accounted for 31.8% of the total number of unemployed, and that the real figures translated into 770,000 people not only ineligible for unemployment benefit, but almost certainly without any form of social support at all.
As the autumn elections draw nearer, this ‘war of statistics’ and how to interpret them will undoubtedly continue.