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Crisis destroys one in seven Portuguese jobs

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Portugal's economic crisis has destroyed one in seven jobs, with most of them lost since its 2011 emergency bailout programme kicked in, the International Labour Organization said on Monday.

"The labour market has not improved since the launch of the financial assistance programme" in 2011, which was agreed with international creditors to protect Portugal from financial collapse, the UN-backed labour relations agency (ILO) wrote in a report.

"In fact, the trend of rising unemployment intensified over the past two years -- showing some signs of abating only recently."

It said that since the world financial crisis erupted in 2008, Portugal had suffered the third biggest deterioration of the labour market in the eurozone, after Greece and Spain.

Portugal secured its 78-billion-euro ($108 billion) rescue deal in 2011 from three international bodies -- the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

In return for the bailout money, they demanded economic reforms to get Portugal's public deficit down.

The government responded by cutting public sector jobs and salaries, among other measures.

"Restructuring measures in the public sector have directly affected unemployment," the ILO wrote.

The private sector meanwhile is suffering from banks' reluctance to make loans, "entailing lost opportunities for job creation", it added.

Portugal's unemployment rate eased in the second quarter of this year to 16.4 percent, according to its official figures. The government forecasts however that next year unemployment will return to the level of the first quarter of this year: 17.7 percent.

The ILO warned the lack of jobs was pushing "some of the most talented and qualified youth" to emigrate from Portugal. It said nearly one in five Portuguese workers "would like to move abroad permanently should the opportunity arise."

In Portugal, "a stronger focus on job-friendly policies would contribute to reducing unemployment by up to two percentage points by 2015," the ILO estimated.

"There is also a strong case for a well-designed job support system at the level of the euro zone."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131104/crisis-destroys-one-seven-portuguese-jobs-0