Globe, Latin America, United Kingdom

Latin America: Lower incomes or unemployment

The region of Latin America and the Caribbean expects 1.1% economic growth in 2017, but the modest rebound will be unable to stop worsening working conditions for native people and immigrants.


venezuela-pobreza-casas-vivienda-pixabayMaría Julia Mayoral


Two agencies of the United Nations, ECLAC and ILO, supported the prognosis of their most recent diagnosis of the topic, presented in May of this year.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), urban unemployment will keep rising after the greatest average annual increase in two decades was recorded in 2016. The predicted rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the area will be sufficient to counteract the weak labour market conditions, consequently, urban unemployment could reach 9.2%, after passing 8.9% in 2016 from 7.3% in 2015, according to the study.

Calculations supported by the investigation corroborate that in 2016 the urban unemployment rate rose in 13 countries and in eight there were decreases or they maintained a similar proportion to the previous year.

tampons-homeless-pobre-pixabayThis meant that the situation worsened compared to 2015 when the number of countries with increases in the unemployment rate was 8, while in 13 it decreased or stayed the same.

Although the rate of 8.9% in 2016 was largely the result of Brazil’s performance, with a rise in urban unemployment of 3.7%, in the majority of territories in the area there were also declines, the investigation remarked.

Pressured by the lack of opportunities in the formal market, many more people start working through self-employment, characterised by low incomes and instability, observed both United Nations agencies. The rise of those who are self-employed shows the tendency towards the precariousness of regional employment, but the rise in 2016 was less than in 2015, which was evidence of their lower contribution to mitigate the effect of the unemployment rate increase, the inquiry demonstrated.

Among the most vulnerable, advised the study, were once again women and young people with low levels of education and immigrants, many of whom work in precarious positions.

down and homeless mendigo pobre pixabay7For several decades, Latin America and the Caribbean have been a region of net emigration; however, for different reasons, extra-regional emigration has slowed down in recent times and, in relative terms, the intra-regional movement has gained relevancy.

In almost all the nations taking part in the survey (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela), more than 80% of the economically active immigrant population came from other territories in the area, with the exception of Brazil, Mexico and Panama. ECLAC and IOL said “little is currently known about the characteristics of immigration to countries in the region and the employability of those immigrants”. Nevertheless, he revealed that immigrants represent a very heterogenous group in terms of age, education and work.

pobreza-gato-casa-pixabay“There are significant differences between the countries with recent, relatively large, migratory movement and those where the indicators reflect the weight of past labour migration and other migration patterns” according to the analysis.

In cases in which there is a greater relative presence of immigrants, according to the document, migration is predominantly of people with a lower educational level than the native population and they generally work in occupations and positions requiring lower levels of qualification that are not very attractive to the local population. Meanwhile, in countries with a lower proportion of immigrants compared to the total population, it was found that migration was predominantly of people with relatively high educational training and whose working conditions, on average, seemed to be better than the native workers.

Where there were strong migratory fluxes, immigrants usually have lower average income than the native population, they have higher rates of informal work and lower social security coverage.

pobreza-soledad-dolor-pixabayInside this universe, female migrants are in the worst situation.

Adjustments to the quantity, composition and quality of regional employment in 2016 also led to more precarious income conditions: real average wages fell or increased less than in 2015 and adjustments were made to more countries. (PL)

Photos: Pixabay 

(Translated by Donna Davison – Email:


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