Portugal is fourth in EU with highest youth unemployment

  • Lusa
  • 11 October 2022

In 2021, youth unemployment in Portugal, relating to the age group between 15 and 24 years old, represented 23%.

Portugal is the fourth country in the European Union with the highest youth unemployment rate, according to a study released on Monday by the Observatory of Inequalities, an independent structure created in the framework of the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology of the University Institute of Lisbon.

According to the analysis “Unemployment in Portugal and in Europe: How penalised are young people?”, although Portugal is one of the countries where the unemployment rate for the total population is below the European average, in the case of youth unemployment it is higher than the average of the 27 member states.

In 2021, youth unemployment in Portugal, relating to the age group between 15 and 24 years old, represented 23%.

“The countries with the highest percentages of youth unemployment are Greece, Spain (both above 30%), Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Croatia, Romania and Slovakia (above 20%). However, all countries, with the exception of Greece and Spain, have percentages below 10% for total unemployment, illustrating how youth unemployment is substantially higher than total unemployment,” the study states.

The countries with the lowest unemployment figures in this age group are Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The document highlights that the comparison between the youth unemployment rate and that of the general population in Europe differs “significantly in all European countries, with the youth unemployment rate being higher than the overall unemployment rate in all the countries analysed, with greater intensity in Southern European countries”.

The observation made by the researchers shows that the higher the total unemployment in each country, the higher youth unemployment is.

The study, by Inês Tavares and Renato Miguel do Carmo, analyses the pandemic period, caused by Covid-19, and finds that while total unemployment fell in comparison to the European average, youth unemployment remained much higher.

“Youth unemployment in Portugal has been increasing since 2019, a phenomenon that does not occur either in the case of the EU27, or in the total Portuguese or European unemployment rate, which may indicate that the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are still being felt in the Portuguese youth unemployment rate, but in none of the other indicators under analysis,” the authors of the study suggest.

The analysis indicates that 2012 and 2013, the first two years of the economic crisis, and 2021, coinciding with the pandemic, are the periods since 2010 in which youth unemployment has consistently increased in Portugal in relation to the European average.

According to the study of the Observatory of Inequalities, this is an indicator that, in a context of economic and social crisis, “young people are (even) more penalised by unemployment in Portugal, a result that does not occur so prominently when considering the average of the EU27 countries”.

In the context of the pandemic, Portugal was one of the countries in which the total unemployment rate fell, but in which youth unemployment increased by 5.1 percentage points.

The same analysis concludes that in the countries of the European Union, with the exception of Cyprus, the young people with the highest unemployment rates are those with only basic education.

“The more schooling young people have, the lower their unemployment rates are”, emphasises the study, highlighting “heterogeneity” especially in Southern European countries, where Greece is presented as an example, “a country in which the schooling rates are relatively high, but which nevertheless has the highest European levels of youth unemployment”.