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Unemployment figures ‘don’t alarm me, but put me to work,’ President Alvarado says

August 5, 2019

The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, said the country’s growing unemployment rate does not alarm him, but puts him to work.

Data published last Thursday by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC) indicates unemployment reached 11.9%, above the 8.7% that recorded between April and June 2018.

“I would be alarmed if we were not doing anything or if we could not do anything, but we can do something,” Alvarado said. “We have to get to work — me first, but everyone.” 

The President said “there are no magic formulas” to reduce Costa Rican unemployment and indicated a necessity for support from other sectors, “because the government is not the one that directly generates jobs.” 

Alvarado promised that in the coming days the government will announce a new strategy in terms of employment and economic recovery; however, he did not delve into specifics.

Rather, he explained that his administration’s plan will be similar to that of his first year in office. For example, Alvarado mentioned measures such as investment in infrastructure, simplification of procedures, reduction of the legal minimum reserve, reduction of interest rates, improved training and the dual-education strategy.

He also insisted that the issue of unemployment will remain a priority of his government.

“We are fully involved in that, and it is not going to be something that happens overnight, but it is something that with the conditions we have generated today, we can take off,” he said. “We need to continue working steadily; we need investment.”

The INEC figures showed unemployment is at 11.9%. That’s three percentage points more than a year ago and similar to the figure for the first quarter of 2019 (11.3%) and the last one of 2018 (12%), but significantly above unemployment between April and June 2018 (8.7%).

The report also states that between April and June 2019, 296,000 people unsuccessfully sought work. This suggests more people are searching for jobs without the equivalent increase in opportunities.

“The positive fact to note is that we have more people working,” Alvarado said. “However, we have not managed to create more opportunities to absorb more people in the labor market and lower unemployment.” 

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This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on August 1, 2019. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.

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