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Colombia Achieves Lowest Unemployment Rate Since 2015


Unemployment in Colombia
Unemployment data in Colombia are the best since 2015 – Credit: Pxfuel / Public Domain

Unemployment Decreases in Colombia.

The unemployment rate for July 2023 stands at 9.6%, the lowest rate since 2015. This figure also represents a 1.4% decrease compared to the same month last year when unemployment was at 11%.

The Colombian labor market continues to show positive figures. It’s now below the double-digit mark and achieves the best rate in eight years. According to figures from DANE, there are 2.45 million people in Colombia without work, which is 269,000 fewer than a year ago.

Record Employment

For July of this year, the country has 23.1 million workers. This represents an increase of over 1 million compared to the figure from a year ago, specifically a growth of 1.12 million more employed individuals. In terms of gender, most of these new workers are men, specifically 674,000. The rest, 453,000, are women occupying new jobs.

Gender Gap Narrows to 4 Points

It’s true that the gender gap persists but is lower than in previous years. In this regard, Piedad Urdinola, director of DANE, stated that “there is very significant dynamism in the labor market that is focusing on women and is reflected in all areas and geographic domains.”

By gender, the unemployment rate for men is 7.9%, while for women, it reaches 11.9 percentage points. This means that the gender gap remains at 4 points.

Construction, the Sector Creating the Most Jobs

By sectors, construction is the one that has created the most new jobs in July, with 234,000 more jobs in this field. It is followed by the entertainment sector with 218,000 new workers, the trade and vehicle repair sector with 176,000 new positions, and the accommodation and food service sector with 163,000 more employed individuals.

In contrast, the only sector among those studied by DANE that saw a decrease in the number of employed individuals was professional, scientific, and technical activities, which lost 60,000 employees in one year.

The Informality Issue

These positive figures, however, are overshadowed by a stark reality in the country: high informality. In this regard, out of the total employed population in Colombia, 56% are in informal employment. The cities where this mode of work is most prevalent are Sincelejo and Valledupar, where it reaches 64% of the total workforce.

Similarly, experts say that the majority of new jobs are self-employed. In this area, most employ people informally. Specifically, out of the 1.12 million new job positions, 604,000 are for self-employed workers, and 568,000 are for private workers.

However, labor market analysts also highlight the fact that employment continues to grow, despite an economic slowdown.

By Cities

The cities with the highest unemployment rates in the last quarter studied (May-July 2023) are Quibd贸, with an unemployment rate of 25.4%; Ibagu茅, 15.8%; and Florencia, 13.7%.

The capital cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Bucaramanga, with 7.5%; Medell铆n, 8.6%; and Popay谩n, with 8.8%.

Unemployment in Colombia
Bucaramanga is the city with the least unemployment in Colombia – Credit: Mateo Sanchez / CC BY-SA 2.0

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