Last updateFri, 25 May 2018 5pm

Positive jobless stats must be taken in context

The official unemployment rate in Jalisco fell to 2.34 percent in July, the lowest level in recorded history, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (Inegi).

The figure is well below the current national unemployment level, which Inegi puts at 3.2 percent.

Highlighting the achievement this week, Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval said 311,00 jobs have been created in the past 50 months, helped by an increase of 12 percent in exports. Products and parts made in this state are now sent to 181 countries, he noted.

There is a downside to the good news, however. Daniel Curiel, president of the Council of Industrial Chambers warned that the dynamism of the local economy has increased the demand for skilled workers that are still hard for employers to find.

While encouraging, Mexico’s official jobless figures cannot be compared to other western nations that provide financial compensation to the unemployed. Persons in Mexico without work are forced into marginal activities such as street vending, which results in their classification as employed.

Therefore, official unemployment figures tend to mask the real situation: that many Mexicans are existing hand-to-mouth in poorly paid and unstable work.  Many of these people would be classified as unemployed in other western nations, including Canada and the United States.

In Jalisco, Inegi estimates that 49.7 percent of the workforce labor in the informal or “underground” economy, meaning they pay little or no tax on their undeclared incomes.  Inegi does not say how many of these workers fall into the “underemployed” bracket.

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