LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s active workforce diminished by 3.1% in May from April to 4.91 million as fewer Portuguese sought jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of those employed shrank, official data showed on Wednesday.
The National Statistics Institute (INE) said in its flash estimate that the jobless rate in May dropped to 5.5% from April’s 6.3% due to the lower overall workforce.
With thousands of jobs suspended and supported under a government furlough scheme during the pandemic, the jobless rate has become less of a reliable gauge for the health of the economy, with shrinking active workforce and employment numbers showing the extent of the problem.
The employed population shrank to 4.65 million people from just over 5 million in April and almost 5.2 million a year earlier.
The INE said that the number of inactive people who did not actively seek work and inactive people who sought work, but were not immediately available to start working, had increased significantly due to the economic fallout from the pandemic and the subsequent furlough schemes for companies.
(Reporting by André Vitor Tavares and Andrei Khalip, Editing by Catarina Demony and Alison Williams)