Portuguese unemployment highest ever

Portugal's unemployment rate rose to 15 percent in the second quarter, its highest level ever, the national statistics body INE said Tuesday.

In the first quarter, the jobless rate had been 14.9 percent.

More than 820,000 Portuguese are now out of work as the recession deepens.

Meanwhile, the economy contracted by 3.3 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, in its steepest fall since 2009, INE said.

Compared to the previous quarter, gross domestic product shrank by 1.2 per cent.

The INE attributed the fall mainly to declining domestic consumption.

Portugal is following strict austerity policies after being granted a bailout worth 78 billion euros (96 billion dollars) by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's government, the EU and IMF expect the economy to contract by about 3 per cent this year. Unemployment is expected to come close to 16 per cent in 2013. - Sapa-dpa