Chile’s unemployment rate drops to 7.4% in August-October

The creation of more than 28,000 positions for members of the Chilean work force was led by seasonal sectors like agriculture and forestry and has led analysts to predict an overall 2010 unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, down from 9.7 percent in 2009.


According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), unemployment rates in Chile have dropped from 8 percent in the period July to September to 7.6 percent during August to October. A total of 28,530 jobs were created in this period, 96 percent of which are salaried positions.

Seasonal occupations like agriculture, farming, hunting and forestry saw the largest increase in employment between quarters, with more than 20,000 new jobs. Industrial manufacturing and construction followed, creating just under 20,000 new jobs and about 12,000 new jobs respectively.

Decreases in jobs were seen in small and large commercial enterprises, social and community service and domestic service. Increases in jobs have contributed to Chile’s robust economic growth overall.

Importantly, this period saw a decrease in unemployment in the regions most affected by the Feb. 27 earthquake, Biobío and Maule, both in south-central Chile.

In Biobío, the region most seriously effected by the earthquake and its after-effects, almost 12,000 jobs were created and unemployment dropped nearly a full percentage point, from 9.1 percent last period to 8.2 percent in this period, only slightly above the national average. In Maule, the creation of almost 10,000 jobs brought unemployment in the region down to 6.4 percent from 6.8 percent.

In both regions agriculture was one of the primary contributors of new jobs, in line with the nationwide trend. In Maule, the health and social services industry also grew considerably, while in Biobío large- and small-scale commerce increased. Interestingly, both of these sectors saw decreases in jobs nationwide.

By region, the lowest unemployment rates are found in the far southern region of Magallanes, at 4.5 percent, and in the northern region of Tarapacá, at 4.8 percent. The cities with the lowest unemployment rates are both found in the south, with the unemployment rate in Punta Arenas shrinking to 3.1 and Coihaique to 3.8 percent.

Of the 28,000 jobs created between the July-September period and the August-October period, 15,000 were for women.

With the exception of the months surrounding the earthquake, during which job creation stagnated, 2010 has seen a continuous increase in jobs, with a total of 315,000 created since January. If this trend continues, analysts at the Institute project an overall unemployment rate of 8.1-8.2 percent for 2010, about a 1.5 percent decrease from 2009’s rate of 9.7 percent unemployment.