Portugal Aims to Continue Protecting Jobs as Economy Reopens

Portugal will continue implementing measures to protect jobs as it eases confinement measures and tries to recover from the deepest slump in decades, Labor Minister Ana Mendes Godinho said.

“Our top priority has been the protection of employment,” Mendes Godinho said in an interview. “We plan to continue to monitor and reinforce the measures that are needed to protect the income of families and jobs.” The government has paid part of the wages of workers who were put on furlough, offered training and provided grants and credit lines for companies.

Portugal’s jobless rate rose to 6.8% in 2020, less than the government had forecast, while the economy shrank 7.6% as the outbreak hurt the country’s tourism industry and other businesses, the biggest contraction since at least 1960. For Portugal, which has the third-highest debt ratio in the euro area behind Greece and Italy, tourism represents about 15% of the economy and 9% of employment.

Also read: Portugal to Open Nursery Schools on March 15 as It Eases Curbs

Euro-area governments should be ready to keep up emergency support for their economies even after the worst of the coronavirus crisis is behind them, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe said on Monday.

The Portuguese government has spent about 3.1 billion euros ($3.7 billion) on extraordinary measures that aim to protect jobs and wages since the coronavirus pandemic started last year and authorities introduced confinement measures. Mendes Godinho said that about one fifth of the country’s workers have benefited from measures that aim to support jobs.

“This is clearly an investment we’re doing to protect employment,” the minister said. “The alternative would be an increase in the unemployment rate along with a rise in the social costs of unemployment.”

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