MANAGUA – Unemployment, the high cost of living and the political crisis are Nicaragua’s main problems as identified by 80.2 percent of its citizens, according to a survey published this Monday.
The study by the Nicaraguan firm M&R Consultants indicates that 31.7 percent of those questioned believe that unemployment is the biggest problem facing the country.
According to official figures, joblessness in Nicaragua stands at 5.5 percent, but more than 70 percent of jobs are in the informal sector, where wages are low and there is no access to social security.
Some 30.2 percent named as the nation’s biggest worry the high cost of living, which this year has undergone adjustments starting with electricity rates, which shot up almost 10 percent for customers who use more than 150 kilowatt hours per month.
In addition, Nicaraguans have been affected throughout 2018 and so far this year by an increase in the cost of the Family Food Basket, whose value is $424, while the average minimum wage has been frozen at $184.70 since last September.
Political problems were named by 18.3 percent, since Nicaragua is going through a serious crisis that has left 328 people dead since 2018, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), though some groups raise to 595 the number of fatalities, while the presidency only acknowledges 200 and denounces other estimates as attempts to overthrow the government.
Another 6.6 percent mentioned poverty, 3.5 percent said crime, 2.5 percent the lack of investment, and 2.3 percent corruption.
Meanwhile, 49.4 percent of those interviewed said the financial situation of their families was “much worse” than it was a year ago, 32.6 percent said it was “the same,” while 18.1 percent said “much better.”
Nicaragua’s gross national product (GNP) contracted by 3.8 percent last year, according to the Central Bank.
The Daniel Ortega government forecasts a 1.01 percent decrease this year, according to official figures.
However, the forecast for 2019 is another contraction of between 5.4 and 6.8 percent, according to the NGO Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), a center for independent thought.
The survey was taken between last Aug. 13-15 with a sample of 1,600 people over age 16 in the 15 provinces and two autonomous regions of this country, and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent, according to the technical datasheet.