A high number of Latin Americans are concerned about a shortage of jobs, according to the 18-country Latinobarómetro released by The Economist. 45 per cent of respondents in Panama select unemployment as the most important problem, followed by 39 per cent in Uruguay and 37 per cent in Nicaragua.
At least one in four respondents in Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru also believe unemployment is the biggest problem in their respective countries. In all, unemployment was the number one choice for people in 11 Latin American nations, who chose from a list including various issues such as crime, poverty and inflation. In addition, more than two thirds of Latin Americans are worried about the possibility of losing their job or becoming unemployed within the next year. 81 per cent of Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan respondents are concerned about this, as well as at least 70 per cent of those surveyed in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala. On Oct. 22, Panamanians voted "Yes" on a referendum regarding the expansion of the Panama Canal. The work is expected to cost around $5.2 billion U.S. and create about 10,000 new jobs, according to the Panama Canal Authority. On Dec. 12, Uruguay's Central Bank revealed that the country's Gross Domestic Product grew by 7 per cent over the first nine months of 2006 compared to the same period last year. Uruguay is recovering from a major economic crisis in 2002. In November, the government paid the totality of its debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), worth $1.09 billion U.S. Polling DataIn your view, which is the biggest problem in your country? ("Unemployment" responses only) Latin America 24% Panama 45% Uruguay 39% Nicaragua 37% Peru 33% Paraguay 32% Colombia 30% Bolivia 25% Ecuador 24% Honduras 22% Chile 22% Brazil 20% Mexico 18% Venezuela 18% El Salvador 16% Argentina 16% Dominican Republic 14% Costa Rica 14% Guatemala 10% How worried would you say you are about losing your job or becoming unemployed over the next 12 months? ("Very worried" and "worried" responses only) Latin America 67% Ecuador 81% Nicaragua 81% Guatemala 73% Panama 73% Dominican Republic 73% Peru 71% El Salvador 70% Colombia 70% Bolivia 70% Brazil 68% Honduras 66% Paraguay 66% Chile 62% Mexico 60% Costa Rica 60% Venezuela 57% Uruguay 49% Argentina 46% Source: Corporación Latinobarómetro / The Economist Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 20,234 adults in 18 countries, conducted from Oct. 3 to Nov. 5, 2006. Margin of error for each country is 3 per cent.