2003 Labour Overview

The 2004 Labour Overview conveys a double message. On the one hand, it highlights the economic recovery of the majority of the countries in the region for the second consecutive year. On the other, it stresses that while this recovery has fostered labour progress in most of the countries of the region, progress has been moderate at best, with no significant reduction in the decent work deficit. Nevertheless, forecasts for 2005 are positive as long as favourable international economic conditions continue and the labour supply in the region does not expand excessively.

Labour Overview is celebrating its 10th year since it was first published in 1994. At that time, a novel initiative in the heart of the ILO was proposed . to deliver exhaustive information annually on the labour market situation in Latin America and the Caribbean and the factors influencing its performance. This involved investing resources to produce and collect timely data, organize them in a standardized framework, regularly update them and analyze them in a reader-friendly summary document. Looking back over the road travelled since then, we recognize that this publication has grown, matured and adapted to new challenges. Above all, in response to growing demand, it has become a useful information tool for understanding the annual trend not only of the labour market situation but also of the broader framework of decent work in the region.

Ten years ago, in 1994, the region was emerging from the foreign-debt crisis of the early 1980s, and was advancing down the path of structural reform. Although economic growth had improved slightly, the jobs created were mostly informal and precarious. That year, in its first edition the Labour Overview expressed concern about the possibility that a period of growth without employment was beginning. GDP growth was modest compared with the period before the debt crisis and was insufficient for slowing the deterioration in the quality of employment.