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Social Panorama of Latin America 2006

image of Social Panorama of Latin America 2006

In the last four years, Latin America has turned in its best performance in twenty-five years in economic and social terms. Progress with poverty reduction, falling unemployment, improving income distribution in several countries and a strong upswing in numbers of jobs are the main factors underlying the positive trend in a number of the region's countries. The first two chapters of in this report look at the way the main social indicators have behaved in the last few years. The following two chapters address matters that, for different reasons, have come to figure prominently on government agendas.

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Main labour market trends since the end of the 1980s

The economic crisis experienced by many of the region’s countries in the first decade of this century consolidated the negative trends that had been observed during the 1990s: persistent rises in unemployment and casual employment in low-productivity sectors with no social security or health benefits and falling or frozen real wages. However, the subsequent economic recovery in those countries and the high levels of regional growth recorded in the last four years have noticeably reversed some of those trends: regional urban unemployment dropped by around one percentage point and just over 5.3 million new jobs were created each year (more than 75% of which were wage jobs) – a much higher rate than that recorded during the previous decade (3.8% per year from 2003 to 2005, compared with 2.9% between 1991 and 2002). This mainly benefited low-income groups, which has made a significant contribution to the reduction of poverty in Latin America.

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