In an unexpected report Tuesday the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos said that unemployment was 7.3 percent and that 21.3 percent of the households in the country are considered poor.
The report came from a national survey of some 13,440 homes in July. Casa Presidencial was happy to accept the estimate that unemployment actually declined from 8.4 percent at the same time in 2009.
The institute is using new methods that were suggested by international experts to better reflect the poverty in the country, it said.
The unemployment is not uniform. It ranges from 6.9 percent in the Central Valley to 9.3 percent in the Chorotega region of northwestern Costa Rica, according to the survey.
Based on the survey, the institute concluded that 275,000 homes were classified as poor. Some 6 percent of the households live in extreme poverty, the institute said.
The report comes at the same time that the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social said that the number of employed Costa Ricans had dropped.
Like all surveys there is a range of possibilities around the number reported. The use of the high number of respondents, 13,440, artificially restricts the confidence interval. The Gallup Organization usually uses just 1,200 respondents to estimate probabilities.
However, the institute did not report the confidence interval it used to infer the date to the general population. That is normal in such government reports.