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New jobs program aims to put a dent in Costa Rica's unemployment rate

Costa Rican Labor Minister Víctor Morales on Monday introduced a new government incentive for companies willing to hire workers from segments of the population who generally have difficulty finding jobs.

The program, titled “Mi Primer Empleo” (“My First Job”), seeks to help young workers between the ages of 18 and 35, as well as women and the disabled. It will give companies a ₡1.5 million ($2,680) bonus for each new worker they hire from pre-defined groups.

Data from the ministry indicate that Costa Rica’s unemployment rate among women is currently at 12.1 percent, four points above the 7.7 percent figure for men. Unemployment among Costa Ricans aged 18-35 is at 21.8 percent, and for those with disabilities, it’s 60 percent. This year, the overall unemployment rate has hovered around 10 percent.

Participating companies must sign a contract with the ministry in which they promise to include those workers on payroll for at least a year. The program only includes new hires for increased staff, and substitutions are not allowed. Participating companies will be required to provide a social security report from the previous six months to verify they are increasing staff.

Each company can hire up to 20 new workers, and payments will be made in two parts: one after the first six months and the second after the first year. The program is open to all companies, regardless of size or type. Morales said the plan aims to create 30,000 new jobs over the next three years.

Interested companies and applicants must register on the website: www.miprimerempleo.cr (in Spanish only).

Labor Ministry inspectors will use the platform as a reference to keep track of companies’ compliance with the program.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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