In the 2nd quarter of 2020, there was a quarterly decrease of 22.7% and a year-on-year decrease of 26.1% of the volume of hours actually worked. These changes are the highest since 2011.
The reduction of the volume of hours actually worked is mostly associated to the increase of the employed population absent from work, which was estimated at 1,078.2 thousand people (22.8% of total employed population), more than two times the value observed in the previous quarter and almost four times more than in a year earlier. This increase was due almost exclusively to slack work for technical or economic reasons (which includes the contract temporary suspension and layoff), which was mentioned by 680.1 thousand workers absent from work (about ten times more people than in the previous quarter).
The inactive population aged 15 and over, estimated at 3,886.7 thousand people, has increased by 5.7% from the previous quarter and by 7.5% from a year earlier. Never before in the data series started in 2011 such large quarterly and year-on-year changes had been observed. These increases are explained, essentially, by the increase in the number of inactive persons available to work but not seeking (312.1 thousand people), which has increased by 87.6% from the previous quarter and by 85.6% from the same quarter of 2019. The increase of this population resulted, partially, from the transference of 41.8% of those classified as unemployed in the 1st quarter of 2020 to the inactive population in the 2nd quarter of 2020.
In the 2nd quarter, the unemployment rate stood at 5.6%, down 1.1 percentage points (pp) from the previous quarter and down 0.7 pp from a year earlier. On the contrary, the labour underutilisation rate stood at 14.0% and has increased by 1.1 pp from the previous quarter and by 1.6 pp from a year earlier.
The information in this Press Release is influenced by the current situation determined by the pandemic COVID-19, either by the natural disturbance associated with the impact of the pandemic in obtaining primary information or by the behavioural changes resulting from the measures adopted to safeguard public health (for more, see page 14).
Despite the circumstances, Statistics Portugal will try to maintain the statistical production and release calendar, although some adjustments might occur. We reinforce our call for better collaboration by citizens, private and public entities in answering to Statistics Portugal's requests. The quality of official statistics, particularly its ability to identify the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, depends crucially on this collaboration that Statistics Portugal is grateful for in advance.