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ECLAC and ILO: The Region’s Low Economic Growth Affected Labour Market Dynamism in 2023

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9 January 2024|Press Release

According to a new joint publication by these two United Nations organizations, the increase in the regional employment rate, seen in 2022, slowed significantly in the first six months of 2023, while the participation rate declined.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) released a new edition of their joint report Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean No. 29. Labour market inclusion of young people and redistribution of care work: challenges and opportunities.

The report indicates that in the first six months of 2023, regional employment increased, but at a significantly slower rate than what was observed in 2022. Likewise, it sustains that in this same period, the participation rate declined, falling further from the levels seen prior to the pandemic. Nonetheless, the document notes that in the first half of 2023, there was a reduction in unemployment rates – both in the overall rate and for men and women – and greater wage employment creation contributed to lower informality rates, although they remain high.

This edition of the Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean addresses the dynamics that connect the labour market to the work needed for social reproduction, such as unpaid work, which sustains life and economies. The report emphasizes that the improvements notched in 2023 – such as the lower unemployment rate and the labour market recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean – are still not enough to reduce the age and gender gaps seen in the region’s labour indicators. The data for 2022 and the first half of 2023 indicates that the gaps in participation and employment rates between men and women and between the youth and adult population remain, although at slightly lower levels than in 2019, which was the last year prior to the pandemic. However, the magnitude of these gaps continues to be very significant and stands in contrast to the educational achievements of women and young people in the region.

The publication also states that the impact of the regional economic deceleration – which intensified starting in the second half of 2023 and is expected to persist in 2024 – is likely to create more difficulties for sustaining the increase in rates of employment, wage employment and formal employment. That is why ECLAC and the ILO contend that in order to revert this situation, the region must have active labour policies that promote greater job creation, greater formalization and greater (and better) inclusion of women and youth in the labour market. To achieve this, it is necessary to expand labour policy instruments and improve their articulation to avoid contractions in employment.

In addition, and in accordance with what was established in the Buenos Aires Commitment of November 2022 at the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, the report highlights that the comprehensiveness of care policies and the labour market and digital inclusion of women – especially young women – are critical pillars for promoting the region’s development. In that context, the region has an opportunity to redefine the path towards sustainable development with gender equality, putting people’s care and that of the planet at the center.