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close this bookThe Mega-city in Latin America (UNU, 1996, 282 pages)
close this folder11. Santa Fé de Bogotá: A Latin American special case?
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentPopulation and demographic structure
View the documentBogotá's national role
View the documentThe economy
View the documentEmployment
View the documentPoverty and social indicators
View the documentThe shape of the city
View the documentHousing
View the documentPublic services
View the documentThe city's principal problems
View the documentAdministration of the city
View the documentThe future
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences

Employment

Where Bogotá does face a serious problem is in providing work for its rapidly growing labour force. The working-age population grew from 2.4 million in 1976 to 4.8 million in 1995 and the economically active population more than doubled from 1.2 million to 3.0 million. The latter grew so quickly because of a substantial rise in the labour participation rate (table 11.5). Labour participation rates rose across all age groups with the gross participation rate (economically active population as a proportion of working-age population) rising from 51 per cent in 1976 to 62 per cent in 1993 (DANE, 1991). But the really significant change was among women. Their participation rate rose from 36 per cent in 1976 to 50 per cent in 1995 compared with a relatively small rise in the male rate, from 69 to 77 per cent (Gómez and Perez, n.d.: 11). In 1995, women made up 42 per cent of Bogotá's work force.

Table 11.5 Employment and unemployment, 1981-1995

Yeara

Global participation rate

Gross participation rate

Unemployment

1981

38.5

52.2

5.8

1982

40.1

54.3

8.4

1983

40.2

54.1

7.9

1984

42.9

57.7

12.6

1985

44.5

59.6

13.4

1986

45.1

60.0

14.3

1987

46.4

61.1

13.0

1988

45.9

60.7

12.1

1989

45.4

59.6

9.7

1990

44.1

59.7

7.9

1991

46.5

61.8

9.2

1992

47.0

60.9b

8.4

1993

46.6

61.9b

7.3

1994

47.5

n.a.

8.1

1995

47.3

62.5

6.5

Sources: DANE, 1991; Boletín de Estadística 491 (1994); Revista del Banco de la República, October 1995.

a. March of each year.
b. Annual averages.

Despite such rapid growth, the quality of the labour force improved. In 1976, only 14 per cent of the labour force had received any university education; fifteen years later the proportion had risen to 22 per cent. The proportion of workers with only primary-school education fell from 47 per cent of the total to 29 per cent during the same period.

Unemployment, which has never been as severe as in Medellín or in the major Caribbean cities, actually fell during the 1990s.6 In 1995, 7.0 per cent were out of work compared with an average of 11.5 per cent during the 1980s.7 The reason why unemployment has remained low is that increasing numbers of workers have been employed in poorly remunerated work. Much of this work is in the so-called informal sector, mainly concentrated in commerce, construction, services, and manufacturing; indeed, employment in the commerce and construction sectors is dominated by informal workers (table 11.6). Between 1976 and 1990, the proportion of workers earning less than twice the minimum salary rose from 50 to 58 per cent (Gómez and Perez, n.d.: 81). Even if the number of domestic servants decreased as a proportion of the Bogotá workforce from 10 per cent in 1976 to 5 per cent in 1991, signifying some improvement in the employment situation, the so-called informal sector was growing: it expanded from 48 per cent to 52 per cent between 1990 and 1992 alone (ibid.: 161).

Table 11.6 Bogotá: Formal and informal employment by sector, 1990


Informal workersa

Formal workers

Sector

Number

%

Number

%

Agriculture

10,678

1.3

15,144

1.7

Mining

1,382

0.2

10,317

1.1

Manufacturing

174,725

20.8

238,015

26.1

Electricity, gas, and water

232

0.0

7,428

0.8

Construction

70,140

8.3

47,721

5.2

Commerce

266,081

31.9

140,886

15.5

Transport and communications

49,036

5.8

58,392

6.4

Banks, insurance, and productive services

30,916

3.7

130,606

14.3

Services

236,482

28.1

263,069

28.9

Total

841,672

100.0

911,578

100.0

Source: Gómez and Perez, n.d.: 160.

a. Informal-sector workers include those employed in domestic service, family employment, self-employed who are neither professionals nor technicians, and employees in companies with less than 10 workers.