‘We Cannot Force’ the 18% of Cubans Who Don’t Want to Work, Says Labor Minister

The self-employed sector of the Cuban economy continues to grow. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 December 2018 — Unemployment grew in 2018 in Cuba and stands at 1.7% of the country’s workforce, according to official data that takes into account only those people actively looking for work.

The Minister of Labor and Social Security, Margarita González Fernández, explained on Cuban TV’s Roundtable program that there are a total of 76,400 people on the island who do not work, 1,112 more than in 2017, when the number was 75,288.

According to the official, the figure includes people who can not find work, which are not the same as those who do not want to look for it.

“These figures should not be confused with people who are of working age but neither study nor work; those who are in this situation are about 567,000,” detailed the minister.

This figure is equivalent to 11% of the island’s workforce, well below the figure collected by other means. According to the National Occupation Survey, 18% of those interviewed said they did not have an interest in working. “[This] is very criticized by the population (…). The method is not to use force, you have to find ways to make these people feel the need to work,” said the minister.

González Fernández gave a review of some other figures related to her branch.

As of the end of this year, there are 4.5 million workers in Cuba, of which 3.1 million work in the state sector, compared to 1.4 million in the private sector, through cooperatives or on their own. By sectors, Education and Health comprise the majority of non-business public jobs, with 800,000 jobs out of a total of 1.5 million (48%).

In state enterprises, which account for 52% of employment in the public sector, those dedicated to the food industry, sugar, agriculture, livestock and construction have the highest numbers.

The minister said she is concerned about access to employment for young people who complete their higher education. “This is an area to which we must pay special attention because it can lead to fluctuation in the workforce and discouragement of young people with assigned employment in compliance with their social service.”

In addition, she detailed the priority groups for the authorities. “The attention of state agencies to the recent graduates is insufficient, priority is given to access to employment for graduates of the trade and speciality schools, graduates of Active Military Service and the Female Voluntary Service, people serving sentences on release, people with disabilities able to work and people without a job seeking employment, with special emphasis on young people and women,” said González.

With regards to the private sector, of the 1.4 million workers that make it up, 42% work on their own and the rest work in the cooperative sector.

New additions included 125,216 people who started working in 2018, 34% of them are women and 71% are young. “In the state sector, 93% found employment, with greater incidence in agricultural activities, construction and commercial and services,” said the minister.


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