Statistics published by Colombia’s National Statistics Agency (DANE) found that 16.5% of youth are unemployed, reported financial publication Portafolio Monday.
Youth job seekers, reportedly those between ages 14 and 28, made up the most unemployed demographic, registering 51% of the total pool of Colombia’s unemployed workers.
Colombia has seen its unemployment average fall below double digits (right now the average unemployment rate stands at 9.5%) in recent years, symbolizing a small triumph for a country that has wrestled with a reputation of grinding levels of extreme poverty and staggering inequality.
Strong barriers still exist for some minority groups when it comes to finding a job though. Women, according to the DANE, are particularly vulnerable to unemployment.
Mrs. Gizette Lemus told Colombia Reports that even though she is educated, she still fears that there are strong social norms that will keep her from getting the job she wants.
Corruption, too, says Mrs. Lemus gets in the way of people who want to get a job based on their merit. The Colombians call this informal power system ‘palanca’.
“If I want to get a great job, it is more difficult for [me as] a woman,” said Lemus. “And if you don’t know someone important to help you to enter a good job, it is even more difficult.”
Even though youth employment is still high, conditions are getting better for the youth demographic of job seekers, according to the numbers. The question is whether there’s a structural change at work that’s going in the favor of young job seekers.
Rising Middle Class
The same demographic shift toward a more urban youth and more middle class families that has re-shaped Latin America over the past two decades is part of Colombia’s employment challenge.
A report by ECLAC (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) found that the median age in Latin America during the year 2000 was 24, where in 2010 it was 27.
At the beginning of this year, the DANE registered 28.9% of Colombia youth unemployed. That number was almost halved during the second trimester. Globally, DANE says that more than 50% of youth are unemployed.