San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unemployment Rises To 20-Year High

The unemployment rate in Costa Rica has reached its highest recorded level in over 20 years, jumping to 7.8 percent in 2009, up from 4.9 percent in 2008. The percentage of households living in poverty also increased to 18.5 percent in 2009, up from 17.7 percent in 2008. The increases in unemployment and poverty were announced Wednesday morning by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC).

According to INEC, of the 4,318,115 people in the country, 2,121,451 were employed in July of this year, which is when the study was conducted. In 2009, there were 64,039 more unemployed citizens in the country than in 2008.

“It’s never good news to have this type of growth in the unemployment and poverty rates,” said the Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias. “Above all we should keep in mind that behind the numbers there are people and families.”

According to System of Indicators for Sustainable Development, the 7.8 percent unemployment rate is the highest recorded rate since the unemployment was first charted in1985. The unemployment rate of women rose from 6.2 percent to 9.9 percent, while the unemployment rate of men rose from 4.2 percent to 6.6 percent.

In the country’s central valley, 58 percent of the population was employed, with an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. The highest unemployment rate, 10.1 percent, was recorded in the Chorotega/Guanacaste region.

The Central province also recorded the lowest rate of poverty, at 15.3 percent. The highest rate of poverty was in the Brunca/ Puntarenas region. Over 30 percent of the population in the here was considered to be living in poverty, with 8.5 percent considered to be experiencing extreme poverty.

“We have to remember that Costa Rica, like the rest of the world, has lived the last few months in the wake of the worst economic crisis of the last decades,” Arias said. “Thanks to the responsibility in the management of the national economy…the figures in our country and much less than in other nations.”

–Adam Williams


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