Saturday, February 20, 2010

Central America: The Informal Economy

From IPS News:
According to the third regional report on the labour market in Central America and the Dominican Republic produced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Central American Integration System (SICA), 64 percent of women in the labour force in the region work in the informal sector, compared to 50 percent of men in the workforce.

Of the women in the workforce in Guatemala, 73 percent are in the informal economy, compared to 64 percent in El Salvador and 45 percent in Costa Rica, according to the ILO/SICA study, which defines the informal sector as including the self-employed, domestic workers and unregulated microenterprise.

Although the number of women in the labour force has been growing faster than the number of men since 2001, poverty, lack of education and discrimination complicate the employment outlook for women in Central America, says the study, which was released in October 2009.

In Central America, over 38 percent of the workforce have not completed primary school and 73 percent have less than a complete secondary school education, says the ILO/SICA report. Of the 20 million people in the labour force in the region, 60 percent are unskilled, it adds.

This region of 43 million people is one of the most unequal areas in the world, with half of the population living in poverty, according to international bodies.

And against that backdrop of inequality, women face fewer employment opportunities than men, earn less than men in every area, especially manufacturing, and have higher unemployment rates than men.

Informal Economy - street vendors, craftmakers, self-employed, domestic workers and unregulated microenterprise.

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