At last the extent to which the authorities ‘spin’ figures has been unmasked. Of the well-publicised “fall in unemployment” last year, only a fifth of people registered as unemployed in 2013 have actually managed to return to work in Portugal. The rest – almost 100,000 – have either left the country or given up the idea of working altogether.
Setting the record straight this morning (Friday), Público warned that the data calls into question the true ‘health’ of the Portuguese economy – and points to why troika lenders have been so pessimistic over the government’s own forecasts (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/troika-says-portugal%E2%80%99s-budget-sums-%E2%80%9Csimply-don%E2%80%99t-add-up%E2%80%9D).
“In its first evaluation since the departure of the troika, the IMF warned that these realities showed the effective situation in the labour market was much more serious that employment levels indicated, and would be more difficult to resolve in the context of weak economic growth, which is the perspective for the coming years,” wrote Público.
The data that flies very much in the face of government assertions that it can complete the year within deficit deadlines was compiled by national statistics institute INE.
As Público elaborates, what has made the creation of employment even harder is the fact that between the third and fourth quarter of 2014, Portugal lost another 73,700 jobs.
Further bad news comes with the so-called “underemployment of part-timers”. This is the part-time status of so many who are available and willing to work full-time but simply cannot find the opportunities.
“In the last quarter (of 2014), there were 251,700 people in this situation – 2.9% less than the same period the year before, but still more than 8.4% of the previous quarter,” writes Público.
The INE data also stresses the ‘considerable weight’ of long-term unemployment and the recently increased rate of youth unemployment – up to 34% by the end of 2014.
Público highlighted the fact that ‘gains’ in youth unemployment data cited by the government centred more on the fact that the young people had become older, and therefore moved into another age bracket, than the fact that they had actually found work.
In other words, there is many a slip twixt cup and lip, and this is what has caused the IMF and European Commission to reserve judgement over Portugal’s real likelihood of turning the tough economic corner.
By NATASHA DONN