LIMA – The economic crisis eliminated 2.2 million jobs last year in Latin America and the Caribbean, a figure that boosted the rate of unemployment from 7.5 percent to 8.4 percent, according to a report by the International Labor Organization released here Monday.
The ILO forecasts that this percentage, which reflects the 18.1 million of those currently jobless, could drop slightly to 8.2 percent in 2010.
The U.N. body said that the unemployment rate increased in 2009 in 12 of the 14 countries studied. Only Peru and Uruguay escaped.
The biggest increases were in Barbados, which jumped from 8.3 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009; Costa Rica, from 4.9 percent to 7.8 percent; Chile, from 7.9 percent to 10 percent; and Ecuador, from 6.85 percent to 8.7 percent.
The rate of unemployment in Colombia grew between 2008-2009 from 11.5 percent to 12.3 percent.
The international financial crisis did not strike Latin America and the Caribbean as hard as expected at the outset, but even so unemployment last year saw a reversal from the 2002-2008 period, when the jobless rate declined from 11.4 percent to 7.5 percent.
ILO regional director Jean Maninat said that what did increase in the region was informal employment, “which continues to be a kind of refuge from unemployment.”
“Of every 10 jobs created, six were in the informal sector,” Maninat said.
“Before this crisis there was already another crisis of poverty, informal jobs and underemployment, of unsustainable development and a deficit of decent work,” he said.
Maninat therefore recommended that the countries in the region put jobs “at the center of economic policy” and promote a social dialogue and the creation of sustainable companies, given that “the invisible hand of the market is insufficient to assure the development of sustainable companies.”
This year’s expected reduction in the rate of unemployment from 8.4 percent to 8.2 percent means little, given that the absolute number of jobless will remain at around 18 million, the ILO document said. EFE