July 29, 2020 / 10:26 AM / 17 days ago

Coronavirus pushes Portugal jobless rate to 7% in June

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s unemployment rate rose to 7% in June from a revised 5.9% in May as tens of thousands of jobs were wiped out amid the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed on Wednesday.

The overall number is likely to be substantially higher as many workers stopped looking for jobs in the lockdown, meaning they are left off unemployment statistics.

“The evolution of the labour market continues to be marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the National Statistics Institute (INE) said in a statement.

Around 180,000 jobs have gone since February, a month before a six-week long lockdown, the INE data showed.

In addition, the roughly 877,000 workers on furlough are not included in INE’s unemployment data.

The scheme allows firms to temporarily suspend jobs or reduce working hours instead of firing workers.

The indicator of labour under-utilisation - which, in addition to the unemployed, includes part-time workers and those currently inactive - reached 820,000 people in June, INE said.

Women and those under 25 have been hit the hardest, with the jobless rate among Portugal’s young people up 4.2 percentage points to 25.6% in June.

Unemployment had been falling as Portugal slowly recovered from a debt crisis, but is likely to hit 9.6% this year due to the health crisis, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said last month.

The tourism-dependent economy grew 2.2% in 2019 while unemployment was near record lows at 6.5%, but lockdowns at home and abroad have kept visitors away and shuttered many businesses.

The southern Algarve region, usually packed with visitors but now nearly deserted, was badly hit, with the number of registered unemployed in June jumping 231% to more than 26,000 people, figures from the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) showed last week.

Reporting by Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon and Joao Manuel Mauricio in Gdansk; Additional reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Andrew Cawthorne

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