Slight drop in unemployment in Caribbean—ILO

THE unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean fell slightly to a forecast 7.8 per cent in 2018, from 8.1 per cent in 2017, reversing a three-year trend of rising unemployment, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in its Labour Overview 2018 regional report.

“In a context of slow economic growth, the improvement in the unemployment rate has been modest,” said ILO interim Regional Director Carlos Rodriguez, adding that there is a need “to increase the speed at which we generate more and better jobs”. He pointed out that the latest figures, based on data collected up to the third quarter 2018, mean that some 25 million women and men in the Region are unemployed.

ILO Regional Economist Hugo Ñopo pointed out that youth unemployment in the Region was at alarming levels. One in five people in the 14-25 age group were looking for work, but failing to find any in the third quarter 2018. The report highlights the need to step up efforts to reduce gender inequality in the world of work. The labour force participation rate for women has remained constant, at 50.3 per cent in the third quarter, 20 percentage points below the rate for men. The unemployment rate for women reached 10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, as compared with a 7.3 per cent rate for men.

While the average unemployment rate for the Region dropped, it actually increased in 10 countries and fell in seven. The decrease in the regional rate was driven in large part by an improvement in Brazil – home to 40 per cent of the Region’s economically active population – which saw the unemployment rate drop by 0.6 percentage points.

At the same time, real minimum wages increased regionally, and in 12 of the 16 countries that provided data for this indicator. The report says one million jobs could be created if an IMF forecast for a 2.2 per cent growth in 2019 is realised. But it also warns that future trends in the Region remain uncertain amid labour market vulnerability to political, trade and investment fluctuations. Labour Overview marks its 25th anniversary this year, at a time when the ILO is gearing up to mark its centenary, starting in January 2019.

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