Venezuelan Unemployment Drops to Lowest Rate in Chavez’s Presidency


1-27-07, 8:51 am

Caracas, January 25, 2007 (— Venezuela’s National Statistics Institute released its unemployment data yesterday, saying that unemployment had dropped to 8.4% in December 2006, which is 0.5% lower than the same month in 2005. Also, the quality of jobs improved, in that formal sector employment rose from 52.0% to 55.5% in the same time period. This means that 364,589 new jobs were created in 2006 for a total of 11.3 million employed in Venezuela.

Traditionally employment drops to its lowest levels in December of each year because employers hire temporary workers for Venezuela’s extremely busy holiday season. The annual unemployment rate for 2006, though, is expected to be at least 2% lower than when Chavez became president in 1999.

This year, however, reports the daily El Universal, the unemployment decrease between November and December was lower than usual. According to the paper’s survey of employers, this was because of the uncertainty that the December presidential elections generated, producing a less busy holiday season than usual. As a result, the government did not meet its goal of reducing unemployment to 7% by the end of 2006.

Economic growth in Venezuela has been the main force behind the lowering of the unemployment rate. For 2006 GDP grew by 10.2%, which is the third year in a row that the economy grew by more than ten percent. Opposition economists put this off as a result of high oil prices and not due to anything the government has done.

However, compared to other oil producing economies around the world, Venezuelan growth beats all of these. Economic growth for various OPEC member states hovered around 5%. For example, 2006 GDP growth was 5.9% in Saudi Arabia, 5% in Iran, and 5.3% in Nigeria.