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Unemployment to rise in region

About 14.7 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean will be unemployed in 2013.

This forecast from the International Labour Organisation comes despite reports that there could be slight economic recovery for the said region in the range of 3.8 per cent.

Though heavily focused on Latin America in particular, in the 2012 Labour Overview for the region, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Elizabeth Tinoco, noted that despite challenging times, “new labour indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean portray a region that is experiencing its finest moment despite the crisis in other latitudes”.

“The ILO’s 2012 Labour Overview for Latin America and the Caribbean reports that the unemployment rate has continued its decline and that real wages, formal employment and social protection coverage have all increased.

“In 2012, the average urban unemployment rate for the region decreased once again, to 6.4 per cent. This is a major achievement for a region where the rate exceeded 10 per cent less than a decade ago.

“In 2013, the urban unemployment rate is expected to continue to fall, to an estimated 6.2 per cent. These unemployment levels are historic lows.

With respect to earnings, through the third quarter of 2012, real wages increased by more than three per cent in several countries whereas the regional average for minimum wages rose more than six per cent,” she stated.

The report also noted that there were “strong indications that the quality of employment has also improved”.

“In several countries, wage and salaried employment, which is associated with the formal sector, grew more than own-account employment, which is generally linked to the informal sector.”

Despite these positives, Tinoco remarked that in Latin America and the Caribbean nearly 15 million people were unemployed; nearly half of all workers held informal jobs; there were 20 million young people who were neither studying nor working and while there was decline in poverty, 167 million people in the region were still affected by it.

She told the countries of the region: “[W]e should remember that growth is indispensable but insufficient. Countries should make the generation of more and better jobs the focus of their macroeconomic policy.

“The best-performing economies were those that made positive Government interventions to promote productivity, openness and investment but that also applied measures to protect real wages and stimulate aggregate demand through the rational use of public funds.”

In the executive summary forecast, the ILO reported:

“Despite the climate of uncertainty at the global level, specialised agencies forecast a slight recovery of economic growth (3.8 per cent) in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013.

“This recovery should be reflected not only in decreasing urban unemployment rates, but also in an improved quality of employment.

“The recovery of economic growth in 2013 will improve labour market performance with respect to 2012. It is estimated that demand conditions will improve slightly and the employment-to-population ratio will increase by an estimated 0.3 percentage points.

“In addition, recent trends in labour force participation rates are expected to continue, given the ongoing growth in women’s labour market participation and the slight decline in that of youth.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, the average urban unemployment rate is expected to decrease to 6.2 per cent of the labour force in 2013. Given the projected growth in the labour force, an estimated 14.7 million will be unemployed in the region in 2013.” (LB)

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