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Portugal Labor Market Improving

Companies are increasing their workforce by an average of 3%.Companies are increasing their workforce by an average of 3%.

Some of the most positive labor-related figures in recent memory have been released this week. After years of strife, with many workers forced abroad in search of a job or into unemployment, it now appears that the labor market is enjoying one of its best periods.

Portugal’s unemployment rate this week slipped to below 8% for the first time in a decade, with projections that more people will find employment this spring. Job creation is also showing promise, with companies currently increasing their workforce by an average of 3%, PNA reported.

Additional data from the National Office of Statistics also indicates that not only are workers becoming increasingly in demand, but that wages are also at an all-time high.

The INE revealed that by the end of last year, the number of workers earning €3,000 ($3,575) after deductions had climbed to its highest figure on record, with 37,500 workers falling in this category.

But it is not only high-income earners who are benefitting from being handed greater monetary rewards from their bosses. The number of workers cashing pay cheques of below €600 a month is also at a new low, while the average take-home pay in Portugal has risen above inflation to €876 a month. There was also a substantial increase (18.4%) of workers taking home between €1,800 and 2,500 a month.

Jobless queues have continued to shrink, with the current rate of 7.9% finally in line with the European average. Youth employment has fallen to 21.9%, a figure last seen seven years ago, while the number of long-term jobless has been reduced by almost a third.

This news was followed by calls from the junior members of the government’s leftist alliance to cut the working week in the private sector to seven hours a day or 35 hours a week.

The Left Bloc and the Communist Party whose support of the minority Socialist government allows them to rule, have tabled a proposal to bring the working hours of workers in the private sector in line with most people employed in the civil service.

A debate on the matter has been scheduled for next Friday, though the Socialist government has expressed some reservations on pushing through such legislation.

According to calculations by the Communist Party, reducing the working week to 35 hours would effectively wipe out unemployment, with 440,000 jobs expected to be created by such a move.

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