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Latinamerica has 19 million urban unemployed.

Thursday, January 8th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Latinamerica has 19 million urban unemployed and suffers from an overall retraction in the quality of jobs according to the annual report from the International Labour Organization which was presented this week in Santiago.

These numbers do not include those working in the informal economy and redundant women, according to Chilean born Juan Somavía, Director of the ILO.

However the 2003 report indicates that there's a "slight progress" compared to 2002, but "still not sufficiently extended to revert the loss of jobs in 2002".

This modest recovery means that in 2004, overall unemployment in Latinamerica will reach 10%, a modest improvement over the 10,7% of 2002, given the better economic outlook for 2004, although with a prevalence of "labour instability".

The sombre results of 2003 confirm "our long term concern regarding the performance of the development model applied since the early nineties, which has been characterized by leaving aside the social effects of these policies", said Agustín Muños, ILO regional director.

The report considers several countries of the region pointing out that during the first nine months of 2003, compared to the same period of 2002, urban unemployment increased in Brazil from 12% to 12,4%; Ecuador 6,3 to 6,7%; Mexico 2,8 to 3,2%; Uruguay 16,5% to 17,4% and Venezuela 15,7 to 18,9%.

Unemployment on the other hand dropped 5,9% in Argentina; 0,4% in Chile; 0,5% in Colombia and 0,3% in Peru.

Regarding gender, unemployment is harsher for women, for example in Argentina during the January-September period it dropped 6,1% for men compared with the same period of 2002, but for women the decrease was less, 4,7%.

Similarly for youth and first time job seekers, even in countries that experienced a better employment situation, young peoples' access to jobs remained unchanged or increased significantly, almost doubling the general rate, for example in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The report also indicates regional productivity actually dropped half a point, meaning that most newly employed have low productivity and face a general deterioration in the quality of jobs, which is "greater informality".

"Over half of Latin America's workforce faces unemployment and informality problems", underlines ILO, adding that "four out of ten Latin-Americans receive insufficient income to satisfy basic needs", which erodes social cohesion and affects governance.

The document finally underlines incomes' loss of purchasing power, with the minimum wage having dropped 1,6% overall in the region.

The countries with greatest losses in minimum incomes during 2003 were Venezuela 15,9% and Uruguay 15%, plus lesser contractions in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. On the other hand slight increases were recorded in Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica.

Categories: Mercosur.

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