Latest figures released by statistics office INDEC show significant job losses and a declining average real salary for workers.
More than 118,000 jobs in the formal have been lost since President Mauricio Macri took office representing the Cambiemos coalition, with the official unemployment rate ticking up to 9.3%. Many more jobs are estimated to have been lost in the informal sector.
At the same time, wage increases have not kept pace with inflation. Wages were up by just over 35% compared to the same period of the previous year, but annual inflation was 43.5%, leading to decreased purchasing power for workers and a decline in real salaries of nearly 10%.
Martín Polo, an economist with consulting firm Analytica, said that the job losses varied by sector. “Today the job market is divided into sectors that did not suffer the latest slump such as finance, trade and transport, and others which are having serious problems, mainly construction and industry.”
Last Friday’s numbers come just weeks after another sobering report from INDEC found that nearly one in three Argentines lives below the poverty line.
Macri has vowed to reform INDEC, the national institute for statistics and the census, which had come under fire for providing unreliable data during Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government.
The International Monetary Fund, which recently concluded its first formal visit Argentina for the first time in more than a decade, has voiced support for Macri after he appointed Jorge Todesca the new head of INDEC with a mandate to revamp the agency. However, the agency’s latest reports have mostly highlighted negative trends.
Economists predict that Argentina will pull out of its current recession next year, but warn that employment may not recover as swiftly.
The latest labour market data was released as the country’s leading umbrella unions debate whether to take action against the government.
The tri-partite leadership of the General Labour Confederation (CGT) is negotiating an end-of-year bonus with the government, which could avert any measures this year, while the two heads of the Argentine Central Workers’ Union (CTA) have called for a national strike.