If the current trend continues, For the last quarter of this year, the country could return to the level of working poverty that was registered before the COVID-19 pandemic, considers José Nabor Cruz, Executive Secretary of the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval). Not that that rank is good, but it is better than the one we have now.
In the first quarter of 2020, 35.6% of the population was in working poverty. In other words, the income they received from their work or activity was not enough to buy the equivalent of a basic food basket. That percentage translates to more than 44.8 million people.
According to the latest Coneval measurement, For the second quarter of this 2021, from April to June, the labor poverty rate was 38.5%, a little more than three percentage points above what was reported at the beginning of last year.
In other words, there were more than 49 million people in these conditions, more than 4 million more than before the economic crisis.
However, when comparing the current horizon with that of early 2021 or, worse, with the second quarter of last year, the trend is of recovery, the head of Coneval emphasizes in an interview. “Fortunately, four quarters after the peak of the levels of working poverty”, the population in these problems has decreased.
Based on information from the Telephone Occupation and Employment Survey (ETOE), in the second quarter of 2020 — from April to June — working poverty “was around 50% of the population”. And the highest point occurred in May, he says, at which time it is estimated that there were more than 60 million people in that situation.
The government policy of increasing the minimum wage, the increase in the wage bill —that is, the sum of what all working people earn — and even reforms such as subcontracting will allow reducing the number of people in working poverty, he estimates.
Another signal that the official finds to calculate that for the October-December 2021 period, working poverty will be closer to 35% is the number of jobs that the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) reported for July.
In the report that Coneval released last week they do not include this data, but from June to July of this year more than 1.3 million people joined an occupation or returned to activities that allow them to generate income.
However, the also researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is cautious. “It will also depend on the sanitary conditions of the third wave of this pandemic.”
But, “even with the strong blow in the labor market between April, May and June of last year, we already see signs of recovery for more than a year,” he insists.
In that pandemic, some businesses chose to reduce the salary of their staff, many did it to survive and not make layoffs. This phenomenon “can be observed indirectly” in the Coneval report.
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