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Unemployment in the Region Rose 0.8 Points in 2009

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10 June 2010|Press Release

Although the rate of open unemployment rose from 7.3% to 8.1%, the impact of the economic crisis on the labour market in Latin America was milder than expected.

(10 June 2010) The rate of open unemployment increased from 7.3% to 8.1% during 2009, less than originally feared, state the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the bulletin Labour Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean published this month.

In their third joint bulletin, the organizations examine the impact of the global crisis and gradual economic recovery on the labour market in Latin America and the Caribbean during 2009, concluding that the impact on labour was not as strong as initially predicted.

Although the crisis caused a drop in employment, an increase in unemployment rates and the deterioration of the quality of employment, the impact was mitigated by the signs of economic recovery as of mid-2009 around the globe, the countercyclical policies adopted in many countries and the stability of the purchasing power of wages due to decreasing inflation, which restrained the fall in domestic demand.

Moreover, unemployment increased less than expected, partly due to the fact that many youths stopped searching for jobs given the unfavourable conditions of the labour market.

Towards the end of 2009, labour indicators in many countries were improving, and by the last quarter of the year, the employment rate in the region had reached the same levels as that of the same quarter in 2008. This process was accompanied by better quality of employment, given that in all of the countries with available data, formal employment began to rise.

The improvements in the labour market continued through the beginning of 2010, although several countries are far from overcoming the impact of the crisis and the degree of economic recovery differs significantly from one country to another, say ECLAC and ILO.

The bulletin Labour Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean  also examines some of the policies adopted during the crisis and that have increased opportunities for women and promoted gender parity. Among them are the measures geared at protecting the income of the most vulnerable workers, which indirectly benefit women given their high concentration in those income groups, and programmes to retain and promote jobs especially aimed at the inclusion of women.

Other such measures are those that acknowledge the need to strengthen maternal protection and prevent the crisis from increasing labour discrimination against women and policies to raise public investment oriented towards expanding social and caregiving infrastructure. The latter can create jobs for women in the medium term and contribute to gender parity through a greater offer of services that will result in a better distribution of domestic duties.


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