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Unemployment in Latin America falls to 6.8 percent in 2011: ILO

LIMA -- Latin American unemployment fell in 2011 from 7.6 to 6.8 percent, its lowest level since the mid-1990s, but major challenges remained on work conditions and social security coverage, said a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) Thursday.

The official number of job seekers in Latin America and the Caribbean stabilized at 15.4 million, 700,000 less than 2010, according to the regional report on employment in urban areas, presented in Lima, Peru.

“The 2011 unemployment rate (in Latin America) was the lowest this century but could stagnate this year due to the international economic crisis,” said Elizabeth Tinoco, regional director of the ILO.

The region closed 2011 with between 4.3 and 4.5 percent growth, according to various international bodies, but that was expected to drop below four percent in 2012.

Working conditions and social security cover had seen “significant progress” in the past decade in Latin America but “important challenges” remained.

Some 40 percent of jobs in urban areas had no form of health coverage and 43.5 percent had no retirement plan, according to the ILO.

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