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Portuguese unemployment hits new record high since euro introduced

Jobless rate stood at 16.9 percent at the end of last year

Portugal’s jobless rate hit a new euro-era record high at the end of last year as the government’s austerity program imposed in exchange for a 78-billion-euro bailout from the IMF and the European Union left the economy entrenched in recession.

The National Statistics Institute (INE) said the unemployment rate jumped to 16.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 15.8 percent the previous three months and from 14.0 percent in the same period a year earlier. The average rate for last year was 15.7 percent, three percentage points higher than a year earlier.

The number of people out of a job as of the end of December stood at 923,200, up from 870,900 in the third quarter and 771,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011. Unemployment in the manufacturing and construction sectors climbed 12.8 percent from a year earlier and was up 1.9 percent in the services sector.

The jobless rate for those aged 15 to 24 increased to 40.0 percent at the end of the year from 39.0 percent as of the end of September and from 35.4 percent a year earlier. The rate for the long-term unemployed rose to 9.5 percent from 7.4 percent a year earlier.

The domestic economy remained in the recession for the second year in a row last year when GDP shrank 3.0 percent. The Bank of Portugal last month predicted output would decline by 1.9 percent this year.

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