New statistics show employment picture is complex

A report that said unemployment has increased in the last four months of 2014 brought quick government responses.

However, the employment situation with 220,000 persons reported out of work is only represented partly by these numbers.

And additional statistic is that there are 931,000 persons working in the informal economy.

The numbers came from the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Censos, which said the unemployment rate in the last third of 2014 was 9.7 percent, compared to 8.3 for the previous year.

Welmer Ramos, the minister of Economía, Industria y Comercio, quickly issued a statement saying that the government and private enterprise both hope for a reactivation of the economy.

Víctor Morales Mora, minister of Trabajo, blamed structural causes and said 60 percent of first-time job seekers have not completed secondary education. He added that cuts by the Banco Central in key interest rates would help promote consumption.

According to the statistics, women were more likely to be unemployed than men. The rate for women was 11.8 percent compared to the 8.2 for men.

Another big problem was the number of individuals who are underemployed, meaning that they are working at a job for less hours or at a lower position than they would like. That was estimated to be 18.8 percent.

In human terms the higher unemployment statistic means that there were 31,000 more persons without jobs at the end of 2014 when compared to the previous year.

The number of those employed informally confounds precise discussions of unemployment. These would be the self-employed and others who are not party to social security benefits.

Large numbers of sports book employees fall into this category because they are paid off the books. So are a large number of foreign agricultural workers.

A statement said officials expect 35 new projects using foreign investments to do this along with increases in exportation, tourism and the development of small and medium enterprises.

The government also said it would accelerate the execution of public works projects.

Private industry, however, has said economic constrictions come from the higher cost of electrical energy, taxes and social security payments for employees.

The new statistics are troubling because they reflect employment over the Christmas season, which is supposed to provide many temporary jobs. But in the last four months of 2014, the commercial sector showed fewer jobs, according to the report that was issued Thursday.

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