Urban Unemployment in Colombia

Measurement, Characteristics, and Policy Problems

by Robert L. Slighton

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An analysis of the dimensions and characteristics of urban unemployment in Colombia. About 10 to 16 percent of the labor force in the larger cities are unemployed, and unemployment is increasing. It is four to six times greater than it was 15 years ago. The unemployment rate is likely to double within the next six to seven years if Colombia's future rate of growth of output is the same as its historic rate. The urban unemployed are younger than the employed and less educated; however, the relationship between unemployment and education is weak. There is no evidence to suggest that the rising unemployment rate is the result of a large increase in the number of unemployed migrants who have come from the countryside to the cities. Two important conclusions emerge from the study: (1) The urban unemployment problem is sufficiently important to warrant increased effort in the collection of data concerning its magnitude. (2) Urban unemployment is a more serious problem today than it was three years ago, and, unless there is a sharp change in the rate and pattern of growth of total output, it will become an even more pressing economic problem in the near future. (See also RM-5412-AID.)

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