The end of most of the restrictions derived from Covid and the consequent rebound that this brought in economic activity caused employment to begin to recover in Argentina, but at such a disparate rate that the increase in job insecurity is already evident . This conclusion follows from the fact that Non-registered wage earners and non-salaried workers are the ones that grew the most in the third quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, well above what registered wage earners did.
The data comes from the latest report “Income generation and labor input account”, published by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec), in which it is said that total employment grew in the third quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, by 8%. But if we look only at salaried employment, which grew 7%, we will see that of this mass, the unregistered increased 18.9%, while the registered did so only 2.4%.
Likewise, the statistical agency highlighted that In the case of non-salaried workers, that is, those who work on their own (monotributistas and others), it increased in the third quarter of 2021 by 11.1%, compared to the same period of the previous year.
“Total jobs reached 20,412 (in thousands) in the period, which represented an increase of 8.0% compared to the same quarter of 2020. The increase in unregistered salaried jobs stood out (18.9% year-on-year ). Likewise, an increase in total hours worked (25.2% year-on-year) was observed, with an increase in hours worked by non-registered wage earners of 31.1% year-on-year”, indicated the Indec.
Agustín Salvia, head of the Social Debt Observatory of the Argentine Catholic University (UCA), commented that this process that is taking place in employment is already known. “There is a recovery in the aggregate demand for employment, but formal salaried employment is slightly below pre-crisis levels, while what is growing the most is non-salaried or informal salaried work”, explained the specialist.
For Salvia, the registered employment lost during the worst of the pandemic has not now been replaced by work of equal quality. “Furthermore, what happens is that it tends to take the form of temporary, unregistered or even hidden work, through monotributistas who bill for their services (that is why the non-salaried have grown 11%). In other words, formal employment becomes more precarious employment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Juan Luis Bour, economist at the Foundation for Latin American Economic Research (FIEL) said that The first thing to point out from the INDEC report is the weak creation of total employment (a third quarter with less employment than in the first, which is very unusual) and the second, that the creation of registered wage earners has a high component of public employment. “In other words, a report that should be of concern, because there is nothing vibrant, but rather weak in terms of productivity since only public employment, self-employment and informal employment grows,” he concluded.
All this shows little confidence that it will be possible to create permanent jobs in a context of great instability and in the face of labor costs and restrictions of all kinds, which impact companies, which prefer to cover the gaps that are generated with temporary positions. In addition, we must add to this the macroeconomic conditions that do not provide a horizon of predictability that allows the decision to increase the workforce to be made.
For the UCA specialist, all this speaks of unsustainable growth, which is not creating full-fledged employment, but rather precarious work. “This is a big difference with respect to what happened in 2018, 2017 and 2016, because in those years, when there was the possibility of generating employment, the growth of formal employment was greater than that of informal,” stressed.
Currently there are more precarious labor relations for workers, but also a structure of black workers that is outside of labor and tax regulations. The Argentine production structure already had this structure before the crisis (45% of jobs were informal), but now it has been increasing in recent months.
In this scenario, those who are most affected are young people (and, among them, women). “Here it is also observed that the heads of households are beginning to recover employment, but not formally, but another one that is not registered or one that is not salaried,” Salvia pointed out. And I add: “Another increase that was registered in the last four years, but that intensified during the pandemic, was the phenomenon of the poor worker, that is, the one who has a job but is not enough to get out of poverty.”.