Chile one of Latin America’s leaders in employment growth

Unemployment rates throughout the region dropped from 11 percent in 2002 to 7.3 percent in 2010.

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Latin American economies are on the move, and few more so than Chile’s.

According to a joint study by the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and International Labor Organization (ILO), urban unemployment in Latin America has dropped from 11 percent in 2002 to roughly 7.3 percent in 2010. Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua and Uruguay have led this trend over the last eight years, with employment rates in all four nations rising approximately six percent, while Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama y Peru have all seen between three and five percent increases in employment.

The positive trends in employment throughout Latin America and the Caribbean are particularly noteworthy given the overlap with the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The report singles out what it describes as “countercyclical policies” from Latin American finance ministries as particularly effective in mitigating the impact of the crises. These policies involved the expansion of fiscal spending on infrastructure, emergency employment and social programs, and companies.

In its official press release, ECLAC cites the introductory materials from the report penned by Alicia Bárcena, the Commission’s Executive Secretary, and Elizabeth Tinoco, the ILO’s Latin American Regional Director. “Many of the measures adopted represented a way for increased fiscal spending to reach people as much as possible, which reflected a concern for equality,” said Bárcena and Tinoco.

In 2010, employment trends rebounded from decreases during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. During the year, the number of people employed in the region’s cities rose by 6.4 million, returning the regional employment rate to pre-crisis levels. The report predicts an even greater drop in unemployment in 2011, potentially dropping as low as 6.7 percent.

Though the region as a whole continues to make progress, it is unevenly balanced, with the rapidly developing economies of South America generally outpacing those of Central America and the Caribbean.

In Chile, one of Latin America’s most stable and robust economies, unemployment has decreased nationwide since 2010. Statistics released in May of 2011 saw Chile’s national unemployment rate at 7 percent, slightly below 2010’s regional unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.