Photo via Edomex Informa

The national statistics bureau (INDEC) today reported that formal private employment grew by 1.2 percent during this year’s first trimester. According to the report, there are now approximately 6,550,964 workers formally registered in the Argentine employment system, compared to the 6,475,755 there were at the end of last year.

The bureau goes on to inform that the sectors that saw the largest increases were social services and health (4.7 percent), education (3.5 percent) and services, i.e. electricity, water and gas (3.4 percent). The industrial sector, which groups a much larger number of workers, grew by 1.7 percent.

However, it is also true that many industrial companies have reduced their workers’ hours or directly suspended positions following a drop in consumerism. Suspensions don’t formally count as layoffs, but they do lead to workers seeing a drop in their finances (since they are suspended without pay). In fact, the president of automobile company Fiat, Cristiano Ratazzi, said today that suspensions will keep on happening until the end of the year partly due to the “worrying situation Brazil is going through, which affects the country’s demand.”

Finally, the report informs 20 percent of private employment in the country consists of manufacturing jobs, while shop employees represent 19 percent.

Photo via Urgente 24.
Photo via Urgente 24.

The report doesn’t get into the public sector, which has been hard hit these last few months. After taking office, the Macri administration laid off tens of thousands of public workers which it considered to be ineffective and actively unproductive and had been hired by the former Kirchner administration only to mask unemployment in the country. While the government argued it was streamlining and “making the State more efficient,” laid-off workers argued that they were actually productive workers who depended on their now long-gone wages.

An Employment Emergency bill was passed by Congress in May as an attempt to stem the layoff tide by banning public and private sector layoffs for a period of six months. However, President Mauricio Macri vetoed the bill deeming it counterproductive to his plan to create “quality employment” since the bill would “freeze jobs” instead. In an attempt to counter the criticism from certain opposition parties and unions and find middle ground, Macri had big companies agree to hold off on laying off more workers for a period of 90 days shortly after.

The report also didn’t cover informal, unregistered work (trabajo en negro), which is thought to represent a third of Argentina’s economy. It didn’t do it because well, it’s impossible to do so.