Jobless benefit requests by Portugal’s young spike 52% during pandemic

FILE PHOTO: A man cleans the window of a shop, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Lisbon, Portugal, May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

LISBON (Reuters) – The number of Portuguese young people requesting jobless benefits spiked 52% last month from a year earlier, way above the increase for other age groups, amid the coronavirus lockdown, data showed on Monday

Overall, nearly 200,000 people received unemployment benefits last month, a 17% jump from the same period last year and a near 14% increase from the previous month, social security service numbers showed.

There was also an almost 33% increase among those aged 25-34 and a 20.4% rise among people aged between 35 and 44.

“For now I’m financially comfortable with the compensation given,” said Mariana, 28, who lost her job in a Lisbon-based startup last month, when it dismissed 100 employees due to pandemic.

“For me it is more the frustration and stress of not knowing when I will find a job because of the current crisis,” she said.

Last week official data showed just over 48,500 people in Portugal registered as newly unemployed in April, bringing the total of those without jobs to around 392,000.

Portugal declared a state of emergency on March 18, shutting most non-essential services, which are now slowly reopening as part of a sector-by-sector lockdown exit plan in place from May 4.

Finance Minister Mario Centeno said the unemployment rate, which had been falling as Portugal slowly recovered from the debt crisis, could hit around 10% by the end of the year, compared with 6.7% reported during the first quarter of 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak so far numbering 30,788 confirmed cases and 1,330 deaths – much lower than neighbouring Spain – is still set to hammer Portugal’s economy. The International Monetary Fund expects gross domestic product to fall 8% this year.

Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Andrew Cawthorne

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