When you walk through the center of Funchal, it seems the city is not part of the region with the highest rate of unemployed in Portugal. There are long lines at the supermarket, restaurants are filled with tourists at lunchtime, people in and out of the shops, and pubs are full of people over the weekend. The crisis may not notice too much on the street, but is well installed in many madeiran homes.
According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2013 in Madeira reached 20.0%, with an overwhelming 42.1% youth unemployment, ranking as the second Portuguese region with the highest percentage of unemployed, only behind the Algarve . And these are only the official statistic; the reality is probably rawer.
This situation does not impede, however, that approximately 1 in 10 islanders who begin basic studies come to enroll in college, according to data from 2006-2011 -, equivalent to 1.31% of the population of Madeira islands. In the Canaries, this ratio is 2.5 for every 10 college students who began basic studies, or a 2.31% university graduates compared to the total population . Despite the differences between the two regions, are very low numbers in both cases. However, my experience during these two months, what I’ve seen and heard in the street, and after consulting some data, I think the situation of the university here has much in common with the Canaries.
For example, it is common for young people of Madeira combine studies with work, although this is more common in students in their final years. When begin college they are more focused on studying, and after a few years start combining studies with some temporary or sporadic job, always to contribute with some extra money to the economic effort which is making a career. Among the most common jobs, there is everything, but basically it is the services sector (tourism and catering) which attracts more young workers, for being the most compatible activity with the studies. Usually works sporadically or part-time, evenings and / or weekends, and is very often no employment contract between the employer (which thus avoids paying social taxes), and the student (who retains the right to the scholarship).
The minimum wage in Portugal is 566 euros, and for example, a waiter without a contract can charge between 5 to 8 euros an hour, and some students who i asked, for example, would be willing to work for not less than 5 euros/hour .
Also the issue of residence is very similar to the Canaries. The possibilities vary depending on household purchasing power and distance from the family home to college. Usually young people living in Funchal and municipalities closer, still living at home with their parents and move every day to go to class. Those who live further away and can afford it, sharing a flat with other students, and pay between 140 and 200 euros for a room, as it is the floor downtown. Finally there is the residence hall, which is the option chosen by the Erasmus or students from continent, where rooms are shared by 2 or 3 people, and costs 150 euros per month. In my case, I was lucky with accommodation: I live in a huge apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining room, patio and barbecue, and pay 140 euros. The home expenses are monthly divided by 4, and are very curious: most expensive is gas bottle (30 €), light and water (approx. 25 €) and internet (20 €), are incredibly cheap.
In short, the rent and the cost of an apartment in Madeira are cheaper than in Spain, but it compensates with supermarket prices, which is considerably more expensive than there.
Resources: http://www.iol.pt/push/iol-push—economia/taxa-de-desemprego-emprego-desemprego/1447784-6469.html  http://www.portugalglobal.pt/PT/InvestirPortugal/PorquePortugal/Madeira/Paginas/AsRegioesdePortugal_Madeira_Pessoas.aspx  http://www.juventudcanaria.com/multimedia/0001/0001/dir_sc4/capitulos_3.pdf