Unemployment Remained High in October-December 2010 despite Evidence of Better-Than-Expected Economic Growth during Year

By Navarro, Carlos | SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, February 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Unemployment Remained High in October-December 2010 despite Evidence of Better-Than-Expected Economic Growth during Year


Navarro, Carlos, SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico


The employment picture in Mexico was not very pretty in 2010 even though the country's economic performance was better than anticipated. In a report published in early February, the government's statistics agency Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (INEGI) said unemployment reached 5.4% of the economically active population (EAP) in the fourth quarter of 2010, which was on par with the 5.3% rate reported in October-December

2009. But the percentages did not offer the most accurate portrayal of the situation in Mexico; INEGI reported that 2.5 million Mexicans were without work in the fourth quarter, and another 11 million were making a living in the informal economy at the end of last yar. Furthermore, INEGI reported that joblessness was worse in some of the states that have traditionally accounted for the bulk of the country's economic activity, including the Federal District and surrounding areas.

Analysts agreed that the relatively high unemployment rate results in large measure from the inability of the business sector to create the jobs needed by the Mexican work force. By some estimates, about 700,000 jobs were created last year, but this was not sufficient to meet the needs of the population.

Alfonso Bouzas, a labor specialist at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), said the unemployment rate has been coming down gradually after peaking at 6.2% in the third quarter of 2009. But the rate for the fourth quarter of 2010 was still far above the range of between 3.1% and 4% recorded every quarter in 2005-2007.

On top of that, INEGI reported that the EAP has actually declined to 57.8% of the total population, compared with 59.3% at the end of 2009.

"The unemployment rate did not decline in 2010, and those people who found jobs did so under unfavorable conditions," Bouzas told the Mexico City business daily newspaper El Economista.

Although some people have succeeded in finding employment, they do not necessarily find jobs that will help them sustain their families. Analyst Jose Luis de la Cruz of the Institituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) said the government's own statistics indicated that 24% of the work force was employed more than 48 hours a week, and only 52% had access to health care. Furthermore, some 47% of workers did not sign a written contract.

Highest joblessness rate in Mexico City area, other industrialized states

The INEGI report revealed the highest rates of joblessness were in the regions that have traditionally been responsible for job creation in Mexico, including the northern and central industrialized states of Coahuila, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Queretaro, Jalisco, and Aguascalientes. …

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