LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's jobless rate fell for the third consecutive quarter in the three months that ended in December, to 15.6 percent from 15.3 percent in the previous quarter, data showed on Wednesday.
The unemployment rate was also lower than 16.9 percent recorded in the same period a year ago, the National Statistics Institute said, providing further evidence that the bailed-out economy is returning to growth.
Still, the average unemployment rate for all of 2013 rose to 16.3 percent from 15.7 percent in 2012.
Unemployment had continually risen in the past two years, to a record high in the first quarter, as the country grappled with its worst recession since the 1970s under the weight of austerity imposed by a bailout. But the economy returned to growth in the second quarter.
(Reporting By Axel Bugge)