Foreign Workers in Portugal Have Increased 24% per Year

Written By Manuel Poças

The number of foreign workers in Portugal has increased by 24% per year during the last decade.

According to an analysis performed by the Bank of Portugal, over the last several years, the national labor market has undergone a significant change related to worker profiles.

The report, which was completed using the monthly microdata provided by the Social Security Institute, shows that, between 2014 and 2023, a million foreign workers worked as employees for at least a month in Portugal. Furthermore, the number of foreign workers has multiplied by a factor of 9 over the last decade, going from 55,600 in 2014 to 495,000 in 2023.

Specialists argue that this increase clearly reflects the dynamics and needs of the labor market, which have been driven by factors such as globalization, the reduction in the working-age population, and the demand for labor in specific sectors.

As the data shows, foreign workers have a strong presence in the hospitality, administrative, and construction sectors. In 2023, the number of foreign workers accounted for 31.1%, 28.1%, and 23.2% of the total jobs generated by such sectors, respectively.

When it comes to the agricultural sector, the percentage was not yet specified. However, the demographics show that there is also a very strong presence of foreign workers in many agricultural regions. In Odemira, for example, which is an agricultural region in the center-south, 76.1% of workers in 2023 were foreign.

Out of all the foreign workers registered within the Portuguese Social Security system, 42.6% were Brazilian in 2023. The percentage corresponds to a total of 209,400 individuals and represents the nationality from which there are the most foreign workers. After Brazil came India, Nepal, Cape Verde, and Bangladesh.

According to the experts, the growing flow of foreign workers has produced significant implications for the economy and the labor market. As various studies suggest, the phenomenon not only helps to fill the labor shortage in specific sectors but also contributes to the cultural and economic diversification of the country.

It is important to note the conditions in which these workers actually work (precarious employment with fixed-term contracts) and the remuneration they receive. In 2023, the median of the remuneration of foreign workers was between 769 and 781 euros, compared to 902 and 945 euros for national workers.

Not just for this reason, but also for many others, Banco de Portugal stresses the need to continuously monitor and analyze the impact of such workers on the Portuguese economy. The goal is to ensure that labor and immigration policies are adjusted to maximize benefits and minimize possible challenges.

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