Thursday, January 6, 2011

Final Jobs Numbers

Yesterday, Javier Lozano tooted the government's horn for creating 730,000 jobs in 2010, saying it was the highest number since 1996. Of course, it's mostly a rebound from the dismal economic performance in 2009 (as 1996 was a recovery from the crisis the year before), so there's little to be overly excited about. Lozano says that in 2012, 800,000 jobs will be created, but he'll be out of office by the time those numbers are announced, so he's not risking a whole hell of a lot with that prediction. In any event, whether they are the product of a rebound or an unlikely prediction, such numbers are insufficient. Mexico's economy needs to be producing at least 1 million jobs a year to feed the labor market, 1.3 million according to economist Jesús Sánchez Arciniega. All of this is merely to say, even in one-off recovery years and fantasy-land forecasts, Mexico's economy still isn't producing enough jobs. That is a sobering fact.

The obvious urge here is to blame Calderón, which many are doing. Insofar as he promised to be the jobs president and hasn't been able to create jobs, that criticism is warranted. But it's also important for people to see this as a systemic failure of the Mexican economy, much more so than it is the failure one president's policies, even if the president seeks to bathe himself in congratulations when economic numbers are good. If everyone chalks this up to Calderón and figures jobs that will recover once a competent team arrives in Los Pinos, the drivers of poor job growth will continue.

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