Portugal's Jobless Rate Rises for a Second Quarter to 12.4%

Portuguese unemployment rose for a second quarter in the three months through March as the number of jobless workers from industry and services businesses increased.

The jobless rate climbed to 12.4 percent from 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and fell from 13.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, the Lisbon-based National Statistics Institute said on its website.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa was sworn in at the end of November and his minority Socialist government is reversing state salary cuts faster than the previous administration proposed, while increasing indirect taxes. Costa is also increasing the minimum wage and reducing the working week for state workers as he aims to remove some measures introduced during the bailout program that ended in 2014.

The government forecasts economic growth will accelerate to 1.8 percent this year and sees unemployment falling to 11.4 percent from 12.4 percent in 2015.

The number of jobless workers from industries including manufacturing, construction and energy rose 6.7 percent from the previous quarter while the unemployed in services climbed 3.1 percent, the statistics institute said on Wednesday. Youth unemployment was at 31 percent in the first quarter.

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