Colombia’s urban unemployment rate, considered the main gauge to measure joblessness in the country, declined in August, a sign that the faster economic growth seen so far this year could be igniting job creation.
Colombia’s urban unemployment rate dropped to 12.2% in August from 13.1% in the same month a year earlier, the national statistics institute, known as DANE, said Thursday. In a nationwide survey, which economists say produces a less exact indicator of the job market, unemployment stood at 11.2%, down from 11.7% a year earlier.
Colombia’s stubbornly high unemployment rate represents one of the top economic challenges for President Juan Manuel Santos, who has pledged to create 2.5 million jobs in the next five years by easing labor laws and making it cheaper for small companies to hire workers that are starting their first jobs.
The decrease in the urban unemployment rate, based on a survey of 13 metropolitan areas, comes on the heels of faster economic growth. The Colombian economy expanded 4.5% in the second quarter of the year and the government estimates that it could climb 5% for all of 2010 after climbing a tepid 0.8% in 2009.
The DANE said according to the nationwide survey, there are 2.4 million Colombians without a job. Colombia’s unemployment rate is considered one of the highest in Latin America.
The Santos administration is engaging in an ambitious economic reform package, which will need the approval of Congress, in a bid to boost economic growth and job creation.