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Portugal’s unemployment rate hits record high

Portugal’s rate of unemployment reached 14.9 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2012, which is the highest ever rate and 90 basis point above the rate for the last quarter of 2011, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said Wednesday in Lisbon.

According to INE the rate represents 819,300 people out of work, which 48,300 people more than in the previous quarter and 130,400 more than in the first quarter of 2011.

The downward trend has reduced however in relation to the previous quarter as in the third and fourth quarters of 2011 the number of unemployed had increased by 82,000, which could mean that the rise in the unemployment rate is now slowing.

The latest European statistics are from March, a month in which a new record high rate of unemployment was recorded, with unemployment reaching 15.3 percent of the active population, which is 0.3 percentage points more than in the previous month and 2.9 percentage points more against the rate for March, 2011.

In March Portugal had the third-highest rate of unemployment in the European Union, on a list headed by Spain (24.1 percent), and followed by Greece (21.7 percent. At the other end of the scale were Austria (4 percent) and the Netherlands (5 percent). (macauhub)

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