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Unemployment, informality and inactivity menace young people in Latin America and the Caribbean

ILO calls for better use of the growth, development and poverty reduction potential of 106 million youth in the region.

News | 04 September 2007

SANTIAGO DE CHILE (ILO news) – Unemployment, informality and inactivity endanger prospects of some 106 million young people in Latin America and the Caribbean in the labour market, and hinder potential economic growth and the fight against poverty in the region, says a new report of the International Labour Office (ILO) issued here today.

According to the report on Decent Work and Youth in Latin America (Note 1), 10 million young people in the region, or 16 per cent of the labour force aged 15-24, are unemployed which is three times the adult rate.

What’s more, some 30 million young people work in the informal economy mostly under bad working conditions, and some 22 million youth neither work nor study due to lack of opportunities or frustration, making them a social risk.

“Young people are essential to integrate the region in the globalization process”, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said. “All over the world, young women and young men, if they are given the opportunity, make an important contribution as productive workers, employers, consumers, members of civil society and agents of change”.

“Forced into unemployment, informal work or precarious employment conditions, young people find themselves in a vicious circle of poverty which affects their self-esteem, fosters alienation and reduces their prospects”, he added.

The report which contains analysis, discussion and proposals on how to address the youth employment challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean, was prepared as part of a process initiated with the presentation of an Agenda for the Hemisphere during the regional meeting of the ILO in 2006 when its member States decided to launch a “Decent Work Decade”.

According to the report, persistent high unemployment rates and bad working conditions of youth create a challenge calling for “coherent strategies instead of separate measures and an integrated and comprehensive view instead of partial approaches”.

The report reviews a series of initiatives that have been taken in the region, discusses their potential and limitations, and makes specific proposals on how to improve working conditions for young people.

"Young people invest their energy, talent and creativity in the economy, and nobody can afford to loose this potential”, the ILO Director-General concluded.

Note 1Juventud y Trabajo Decente, ILO, Lima, 2007, The report is available at For more information, please contact Luis Cordova at the ILO office in Santiago de Chile, phone: +56 9 8199 3617, e-mail: