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Colombia Closes 2023 with 10% Unemployment


unemployment Colombia 2023
Colombia ended 2023 with 10% unemployment – Credit: Josep Freixes / Colombia One

As of December 2023, the unemployment rate in Colombia stood at 10%, which represents a growth of one point compared to November’s data. The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) released today, Wednesday, the employment data for Colombia. Compared to those of twelve months ago, the situation is practically unchanged, as in December 2022, unemployment in the country was 10.2%.

The country breaks a streak of seven months of consecutive declines, since April 2023, when 10.7% unemployment was registered. The rate declined gradually until November, with 9% registered. The highest level of unemployment was in January 2022. Just a year ago, the unemployment level in the country stood at 13.7%.

Two and a half million unemployed

In the last month of the previous year, Colombia had a total employment count of 22,864,000 people. This figure represents an increase of 396,000 individuals compared to the same period in 2022, when the employment count stood at 22,468,000.

Conversely, 2.5 million Colombians are actively seeking employment but remain jobless. As of December 31, 2023, the employment rate reached 57.4%. It’s worth noting that the country continues to grapple with high levels of informal labor, with over half of the employed population falling into this category.

Piedad Urdinola, the director of DANE, reported that in December 2023, the unemployment rate in the 13 major cities and metropolitan areas was 10.2%. The overall participation rate was 66.3%, and the occupation rate stood at 59.5%. Comparatively, in December 2022, these rates were slightly higher at 10.8%, 66.0%, and 58.8%, respectively.

unemployment Colombia 2023
Unemployment in Colombia decreased by 0.3% during the year 2023 – Credit: DANE

Trade and repair of vehicles; professional, scientific, technical and administrative service activities; and accommodation and food services are the three sectors that contributed the most to employment in December. Manufacturing industries; construction; and Information and communications contributed the least to job creation.

Unemployment distribution

By cities, throughout 2023, the capitals with the highest unemployment rates were Arauca, Mocoa, Quibdo and Puerto Carreño, while those with the lowest unemployment rates were Leticia, Bucaramanga and San Jose del Guaviare. With respect to Bogota, the capital of the country, the unemployment rate was 10.4%.

Likewise, the people who are becoming unemployed the most are those over 56 years old, with an increase of 278,000 people in December 2024. It is worth remembering that in Colombia the pension age is 57 for women and 62 for men.

Regarding the gender gap in unemployment, DANE recorded a difference of 3.8 percentage points at the national level and 2.0 in the 13 large cities and metropolitan areas. The difference is much greater in terms of the employment rate. Thus, in December 2023, the employment rate for women was 45.6%, while for men it was 70.2% at the national level.

The difference between the employment rate and the unemployment rate lies in the intention and active search for employment. Thus, the employment rate is made up of people who, being of working age, are employed, while the unemployment rate is made up of people who, having the intention of working, are unable to find employment.

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