(Photo via La República)

For the first time in a while, the government can look at a survey from the INDEC statistics agency and breathe a sigh of relief: the entity reported yesterday the final numbers of Argentina’s unemployment rate for the last quarter of 2017. The report shows that it clocked in at 7.2 percent, a figure that represents a 1.1 percent decrease when compared to the third quarter of the same year, and 0.4 percent – 433,000 people – decrease compared to the same period of 2016.

However, despite the positive news, there is still a long way to go before unemployment ceases to be a problem in Argentina. Besides the roughly 926,000 people who are out of a job in the 31 urban centers surveyed by INDEC, 20 percent of the economically active population (PEA) – that is, people who have a job or are actively looking for one – are under-employed, meaning that they work fewer hours than they would want to. Out of this 20 percent, 14.7 are actively looking to work more hours, while 5.3 percent are not searching, but would be willing to work more if the chance presented itself.

So, when extrapolating the data to the entire country – the information collected by this report is partial, but representative of the total – the amount of people with employment issues reaches a total of 3.4 million.

The Cuyo region (Mendoza, San Juan, and San Luis provinces) had the best resulting rates, with only 3.2 percent of its economically active population currently unemployed. Out of the urban centers surveyed within the region, the greater San Luis area stood out, with only a 1.2 percent rate.

In contrast, the region that had the highest rate was the greater Buenos Aires area. However, a differentiation needs to be made between the City and the Province, considering that in the former, the rate clocked in at 5.9 percent – lower than the national average – while the latter did so at 9.2 percent. In concrete numbers, this means that more than half a million people are out of a job in the largest urban area in the country. In fact, the province is only surpassed in this aspect by the greater Mar del Plata region, which had a 9.3 percent unemployment rate.

The variation in the next report will be key to determine how strong the recovery is. The figures have shown that unemployment rates drop significantly in the last quarter of every year, pushed by the demand of seasonal jobs, so even though they are likely to increase once more for the next quarterly report, it will hopefully not be by much.