Although this year has not been the best for Latin America economically, the region is still seeing (relatively) good news. The United Nations released a report on Thursday that revealed that Latin America and the Caribbean will end 2013 with an unemployment rate between 6.2 and 6.3 percent, a slight drop from 6.4 percent at the end of 2012.
The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) mentioned that “the first half of 2013 was not plain sailing for Latin America and the Caribbean,” due mostly to a slow world economy, increased market volatility and weakened internal demand. Latin America grew only by 2.5 percent, the report noted, the slowest rate since 2009.
In spite of the drop in unemployment, the region saw no expansion in jobs. Last year, the number of jobs grew 3.1 percent, whereas the first half of 2013 only saw a 1.6 percent expansion. The proportion of wage employment, however, within total employment did increase in most countries studied in the report.
This continued downward trend in the unemployment rate began as early as 2004, the study noted.
In some countries, wages kept an increasing trend, though at a more modest rate than last year. Chile was the leading country, with wages growing 4 percent on average. Colombia and Uruguay saw a 3 percent increase in salaries, and Brazil and Panama 1 percent. Mexico and Costa Rica’s average wages stayed the same, whereas Venezuela’s dropped 4 percent, mostly due to the devaluation of the currency.
The U.N. left Argentina out of the ranking, mostly because the wages cannot be inflation-adjusted -- since the government inflation rate is different from the one most independent consultancy firms calculate.
Both entities pointed at the need in all countries to invest in vocational training as a tool for creating jobs and advancing the economy.
“National vocational training systems need to play a role in reducing the inequalities typical of the labor markets in the region,” said executive secretary of ECLAC Alicia Bárcena in the foreword to the publication. “This is one of the challenges faced by the region.”