2000 Labour Overview

This is the labour situation at the beginning of the new century. We are coming out from the latest crisis, but the region’s structural problems have not gone away. Latin America and the Caribbean are still seeking to adapt to new ways in the economic area, and therefore also in the labour field. Thus, it is imperative to conciliate competitiveness and economic efficiency with demands over social protection, safety and enforcement of labour and civil rights.

We are living through a period of economic recovery with high unemployment. After a year-long recession caused by the implementation of adjustment policies in the majority of the countries, Latin American economies began to make a comeback. Current estimates project 4.3% GDP growth for the year 2000, as well as real wage gains (1.2% for industrial wages and 0.5% for minimum wages) as a result of prevailing a low and decreasing rate of inflation. However, the unemployment rate will remain at a level similar to last year’s 9%. The number of unemployed workers throughout the region is being estimated at 19 million. Youth and women will continue to suffer most, and specially the former, whose present unemployment rate more than doubles the regional average.

All the countries reviewed managed to come out from the recession, albeit not at the same pace and most often lagging behind in terms of unemployment reduction, with the sole exception of Mexico, whose dropping unemployment rate is at 2.3%, the lowest in the region. Mexico’s performance in this area was built upon fast economic expansion and a steady growth throughout the Asian crisis.