Portugese unemployment rate drops to 15.3%: official data
Bailed-out Portugal's unemployment rate fell 0.3 points to 15.3 percent in the final quarter of 2013, down also from the record 17.7 percent at the start of the year, the national statistics agency said on Wednesday.
The average unemployment rate for 2013 came in at 16.3 percent, up from 15.7 percent in 2012, the INE statistics agency said.
But that was well below the 17.4 percent that the government, the European Union and International Monetary Fund expected to be the outcome under the impact of measures to balance public finances and reform the economy.
The improvement was largely illusory, however, as INE found that more people dropped out of the workforce than out of the ranks of the unemployed.
The number of those holding jobs fell by 2.6 percent over the year, with the employment rate dropping a percentage point to 50.4 percent, although there was a pick up in the fourth quarter.
The Portugese government is still pencilling in an unemployment rate of 17.7 percent for this year, although this is expected to be revised down as the eurozone country continues the fragile recovery that began in the second quarter of last year.
There were an estimated 826,700 people out of work at the end of December, according to surveys conducted by INE. That is a drop of 10.5 percent over the year and 1.4 percent from the third quarter.
Portugal is preparing to exit a 78-billion-euro ($105 billion) EU-IMF bailout programme in mid-2014, less than three years after it was thrown the lifeline by international lenders.