Saint Lu­cia and the Re­gion face un­em­ploy­ment woes

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Al­ready fac­ing an un­em­ploy­ment high of nearly 25 per­cent, Saint Lu­cia is among sev­eral Caribbean is­lands fore­casted to face even higher un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures ac­cord­ing to The In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ILO) and Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The two agen­cies fore­cast that un­em­ploy­ment will reach 6.2% re­gion­ally this year.

The un­en­cour­ag­ing eco­nomic out­look for the cur­rent year will likely prompt a mild in­crease in the re­gional un­em­ploy­ment rate to 6.2% from the 6.0% reg­is­tered in 2014, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates re­leased this week by the ILO and ECLAC.

In a new edi­tion of their joint pub­li­ca­tion, The Em­ploy­ment Sit­u­a­tion in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, both in­sti­tu­tions in­di­cate that the 1% av­er­age ex­pan­sion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity fore­cast for the re­gion will not be enough to re­verse the de­cel­er­a­tion process that be­gan in 2011.

The stag­na­tion of Gross

The re­port says that on a re­gional level the decline in labour par­tic­i­pa­tion—which is to say, the pro­por­tion of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion that is ac­tive in the work­force, whether em­ployed or un­em­ployed— seen in 2014 is not ex­pected to be re­peated with the same in­ten­sity in 2015, which, cou­pled with a de­crease in the em­ploy­ment rate, should lead to higher open un­em­ploy­ment, sim­i­lar to the lev­els seen in 2013.

“The labour mar­ket sit­u­a­tion in 2015 is not ex­pected to be par­tic­u­larly con­ducive to progress in re­duc­ing poverty and in­equal­ity,” Ali­cia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, and El­iz­a­beth Tinoco, ILO Re­gional Direc­tor for Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, state in the doc­u­ment’s pro­logue.

In ef­fect, the re­port in­di­cates that dur­ing most of the last decade and at the be­gin­ning of this cur­rent decade, Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean made im­por­tant ad­vances in poverty re­duc­tion and in­come dis­tri­bu­tion, in a global con­text char­ac­ter­ized by grow­ing in­equal­ity.

The first part of ECLACILO’s doc­u­ment an­a­lyzes the re­gion’s labour per­for­mance in 2014 and at­tributes the decline in the un­em­ploy­ment rate seen last year to the atyp­i­cal be­hav­ior of labour mar­kets in Ar­gentina, Brazil and Mex­ico, more specif­i­cally to the steep fall in their labour par­tic­i­pa­tion rates.

In its sec­ond sec­tion, the re­port ex­am­ines the ex­pan­sion of so­cial pro­tec­tion in the con­text of high de­grees of in­for­mal­ity in the re­gion. It con­tends that, from a rights per­spec­tive, the uni­ver­sal­iza­tion of so­cial pro­tec­tion is es­sen­tial to help­ing build so­ci­eties where equal­ity is the end-goal of devel­op­ment strate­gies.

The United Na­tions or­ga­ni­za­tions in­di­cate that to guar­an­tee uni­ver­sal ac­cess it is nec­es­sary to in­te­grate con­trib­u­tory and non­con­trib­u­tory com­po­nents in so­cial pro­tec­tion sys­tems, which en­tails sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges, above all in terms of in­sti­tu­tional de­sign and fi­nanc­ing.

It is pre­dicted that more per­sons across the Caribbean will be on the

bread­line this year.

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