In the rural sector, the recovery of the labor market has become a mirage. Although the September unemployment rate has managed to reach its lowest level (1.7%), this does not translate into well-being for its population. Quite the opposite. Labor precarization has been increasing, to the point of affecting poverty levels. According to the INEC, in the last 5 years, this rate increased from 38.0% to 43.0%.
From the Ministry of Labor, they choose to analyze the figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) as an achievement in this sector. According to Raúl Ledesma, secretary of this branch, a lower rate of unemployment responds to the latest agrarian policies that have been implemented, such as the creation of labor contracts that, for the most part, says, facilitate the hiring of workers in this part from the country. “There are contracts for the rice sector, palm grower, aquaculture, contracts that we did not have before, that did not allow that visible employment because people were informally hired (without benefits), they were paid for the day and that’s it”.
But for Ney Barrionuevo, director of the Latin American Center for Rural Development in Ecuador (Rimisp), the problem of the countryside is not unemployment, but the quality of employment that exists. This is confirmed by the same INEC statistics, which reflect how, in contrast, the underemployment rate of the rural sector has been growing. This in September 2014 (year in which INEC began to register labor figures of the field) was 17%, but in the same month of this year it closed at 22.5%. According to official figures in that same period, the number of people employed grew from 2.2 million to 2.7 million. A growth rate lower than that registered by the underemployed (these were 404,261 to 618,153).
Barrionuevo mentions that the work that is generated in the field, in its majority, is for self-employment and that explains the incidence of rural poverty. “A farmer employs himself or employs family labor, but they are places that come to have a very low remuneration or simply do not have it.”
In order to solve the economic and social crisis that the country is experiencing, it is also necessary for the Government to turn its gaze to the countryside, where the most affected are young people. According to Barrionuevo, 74% of people who do not have work in this sector are those between 18 and 19 years old. (I)