Despite the government having announced multiple measures to curb it, Colombia’s unemployment rate continues to accelerate and reached 9.8% in October.
The unemployment statistics are more bad news for President Ivan Duque, who is facing major anti-government protests, mainly over his economic policies.
Unemployment in Colombia has been on the rise since 2015 when it reached a record low of 8.9%, and has accelerated since Duque took office.
October’s unemployment rate rose 0.7 points in comparison with the same month last year. The year before, the increase was 0.4 points.
According to the DANE, this rise implies that the number of unemployed Colombians increased by 198,000 to 2.4 million.
Senators Laura Ester Fortich (Liberal Party) and Carlos Fernando Motoa (Radical Change) of the center-right voting bloc immediately called Finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla, Labor Minister Alicia Arango and Trade Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo to Congress to respond, in regard to the failure of measures to curb the growing unemployment rate.
Colombia’s monthly unemployment rate
Unemployment is particularly an issue in the country’s largest cities, where unemployment was 10.2%. However, the increase in unemployment in these urban areas was only 0.2 points, indicating that the rise is mainly due to unemployment in the countryside.
The city with the highest unemployment rate was Quibdo (19.8%) in the west, followed by the northern cities of Cucuta and Valledupar, both of which registered a 15.5% unemployment rate.
The government has particularly failed to curb youth unemployment, which increased 1.4 points to 17.5%.
Young job-seekers often face unrealistic demands in regards to experience, which increases their difficulty in entering the job market.
The accelerating unemployment rate is one of the primary concerns of Colombians and one of the driving forces behind the general disapproval of the government, according to pollster Gallup.
Former President Juan Manuel Santos was able to reduce unemployment to a record low by embarking on New Deal-like development projects, such as the mass construction of houses and infrastructure.
However, both Santos and Duque were forced to implement austerity measures after global oil prices and oil revenue dropped in 2014. Both administrations have struggled to impose these austerity measures without this negatively affecting unemployment.