In Mexico, the labor market is characterized by a high volume of work but, unfortunately, this is coupled with significantly lower wages. As per the data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), the underemployed population in Mexico – those working less than 35 hours a week who are open and willing to work more hours – was approximately 4.5 million people at the end of 2023. This marks an increase of 7.3 percent or 308,654 individuals as compared to 2022.
It is important to note that although this number has seen a decrease from its highest point in 2020, which was 7.4 million people, and then further dropped to 5.7 million in 2021, back in 2018 the underemployed population was merely 1.1 million. These figures showcase the volatility and flux in the Mexican labor market over the years.
By the end of 2023, underemployment was a circumstance that 7.6 percent of working individuals in the country found themselves in. In 2022, this rate was even higher, reaching 9.2 percent of the workforce who had the need and the capacity to provide more work hours.
According to labor market specialists, the primary issue is not unemployment, but underemployment. This is due to the insufficiency of income, which often correlates with low-income jobs that also have low productivity rates. This refers to the working population that has both the need and the capacity to work more hours than their current jobs demand.
Workers globally are apprehensive about the possibility of losing their jobs in the upcoming months due to the economic impacts. In the case of Mexico, this fear affects over 60 percent of the workforce. Despite these concerns, the coronavirus crisis has expedited the technological transformation of the work environment. In this context, employees worldwide believe that they can acquire and develop the necessary skills for future jobs with the support of their employers.
Increased hiring of women
Interestingly, it appears that the current labor market is more inclined towards hiring women, despite them continuing to receive lower salaries, which contributes to another aspect of inequality.
In terms of women’s employment, they predominantly work in the service sector. The sectors that employ the highest number of women are commerce and health and social services. Women also make significant contributions in the field of education and, to a lesser extent, in sectors like hospitality, household activities, the manufacturing industry, and public administration.
However, the challenge lies in the fact that underemployment affects women more severely than men. Women are often overqualified for the tasks they are assigned to perform. Consequently, the number of women in managerial roles is far less than that of men. There seems to be a significant barrier when it comes to women being considered for promotions to these positions, and this is not always due to personal choice.
It is also crucial to acknowledge the fact that having children often also acts as a deterrent to career progression.