You are here

Available in: EnglishEspañol

Unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean Falls as a Result of Economic Recovery

However, the region faces the challenge of creating green and decent jobs.

21 January 2011|Press Release

(21 January 2011) The economic upturn posted by most Latin American and Caribbean countries during 2010 facilitated the 0.6 percentage point drop in unemployment, and is expected to lead to a further decrease of between 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points in 2011, according to a joint report produced by ECLAC and ILO.

In the bulletin The Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean No. 4, the two institutions point out that international trade and financial conditions, as well as the upturn in domestic demand resulting from macroeconomic policy, generated economic growth of around 6% for the region in 2010.

The document indicates that this recovery has driven the generation of formal employment, a rise in the employment rate, a fall in joblessness and a moderate increase in real wages. The document also states that the performance of different countries and subregions has been very uneven.

However, these indicators of recovery do not guarantee growth with decent work in the long term. "To bolster the improvement in labour market indicators and generate more productive employment and decent work, the region's countries need to strengthen their macroeconomic policies, improve regional and global policy coordination, identify and remove bottlenecks in the labour market itself and enhance instruments designed to promote greater equality", this is according to Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, and Jean Maninat, Director of the ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, in their foreword to the Bulletin.

Like the rest of the world, the Latin American and Caribbean region is also confronted with the challenge of transforming the way it produces so that its economies can develop along tracks that are sustainable in the long term. Climate change and the consequent challenge of developing and strengthening low-carbon production and consumption patterns will also affect the way people work.

The document thus includes a special chapter on creating "green jobs", which are ones that make a crucial contribution to promoting the transition towards an economy with lower carbon emissions, in order to avoid the irreversible and dangerous effects of climate change on businesses and workers.

Although the debate about the green jobs concept is fairly new in the region, examples already exist and a number of countries have moved ahead with the application of policies and programmes in this area. Costa Rica has formulated a National Climate Change Strategy, for example, whose foremost achievements include professional training in natural-resource management.

In Brazil, fuel production from biomass has increased and social housing with solar panelling is being built. A number of other countries in the region are making progress in areas such as ecotourism, sustainable agriculture and infrastructure for climate change adaptation, and in formalizing the work of people who recycle household waste.

The shift towards a more environmentally sustainable economy may cause jobs to be destroyed in some economic sectors and created in others. The working world will inevitably undergo major changes. If the issue is approached by way of social dialogue and appropriate public policies, there is a chance to use this shift to create more decent jobs, thereby contributing to growth in the economy, the construction of higher levels of equality and protection for the environment.

  • See table below. Brazil: Number of green jobs by economic activity, 2008

Economic activity groups

Number of jobs

Forest management and production


Renewable energy distribution and generation


Waste and environmental risk management, treatment


Product and material recovery, repair, and maintenance


Public transportation and alternative transportation by land or air


Telecommunications and telephone services



Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), Empregos verdes no Brasil: quantos são, onde estão e como evoluirão nos próximos anos, Brasilia, 2009.

The bulletin The Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean No. 4 is available on the ECLAC website.

Any queries should be addressed to the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section.

E-mail:; telephone: (56 2) 210 2040.




Get ECLAC updates by email