Region could see the rate of unemployment decline

The average regional urban unemployment rate could drop by up to 0.2 percentage points to stand between 6.4 percent and 6.2 percent in 2013, the lowest rate in recent decades, according to a new report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the International Labour Organization.

In the new issue of the joint publication “The employment situation in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the two institutions indicate that the 3.5 percent economic growth expected for the region in 2013 should maintain the positive trends in labor indicators.

The two agencies said that the 6.4 percent unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012 had been the lowest in recent decades, having fallen from 6.7 percent in 2011.  This rate is impressive given the difficult labour situations experienced by other world regions.

“With respect to 2013, there is cautious optimism regarding the performance of the region’s labor markets. If projections of 3.5 percent in the region’s economic growth in 2013 are borne out, labour indicators should continue to gradually improve. This will bring new increases in real wages,” according to Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the commission, and Elizabeth Tinoco, director of the International Labour Organization’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, writing in the foreword to the publication.

According to the the agencies report, last year the number of urban unemployed fell by around 400,000, on the back of relatively strong job creation. Nevertheless, they point out that around 15 million are still jobless in the region, and that labor indicator performance was not homogenous across the region: out of the 14 Latin American countries analyzed, six saw their unemployment rate by at least 0.2 percentage points, while it remained stable in five and rose in three (Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Paraguay).

They add that the situation is clearly not as bright in the English-speaking Caribbean, where three of five countries with information available (Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago) saw unemployment rise between 2011 and 2012, taking the rate to a high of 14 years in Barbados and 16 years in Jamaica. The Bahamas was the only country to record a decrease in unemployment, which nevertheless remains high.

Real minimum wages were up by 2.8 percent versus 1.3 percent in 2011.

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