Colombia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 9.6%, the lowest in 13 years, President Juan Manuel Santos announced last Friday.

Along with last year’s single-digit unemployment figures that President Santos qualified as being “extremely important for Colombia,” it was revealed that in December 2013 unemployment had scraped 8.4%.

While 2012 statistics stood at 10.4%, official data from the Ministry of Finance shows that the year 2013 saw the total number of new jobs more than double to 543,000, making way for Colombia in what Santos referred to as the world’s low unemployment “club,” with a rate of 9.6%.

During Friday’s Council of Ministers meeting in Zipaquira, Cundinamarca State, Santos’ claimed that during his government 2.18 million jobs have already been created, and that these are of a “good quality.” That is to say, they are formally recognized jobs with social benefits.

These new jobs are reflected in rising occupation rate, which went from 58.4% to 59.1% between December 2012 and December 2013.

“We’re continuing to break records in reducing unemployment,” stated the Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas in a press release on Friday.

“The positive trends in employment rates are a reflection of the successful implementation of public policies in 2013 — which work towards promoting the creation of job positions – such as the [2012] tax reform and the PIPE (Plan de impulso a la productividad y el empleo)

The PIPE is the government’s US$2.5 million project aimed at stimulating production and employment in Colombia.

The country’s December 26, 2012 tax reform could also behind these landmark statistics, as the Ministry of Finance highlights that new formal jobs consequently boosted in number by a staggering 660,000 in between January and October of 2013 alone.

“We’re not satisfied,” Santos nonetheless claims. “There are still 2 million Colombians looking for a job without being able to find one.”

Although the president still considers the 9.6% figure to be too high, it beats those his government inherited after former president Alvaro Uribes stepped down, when unemployment rates were hitting 12.7%.

Santos also used the opportunity to state that in light of the positive news, he will increase the salary of the National Apprenticeship Service (SENA)’s 250,000 apprentices by 25%, as is apparently established by law.


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