Thursday, 8 May 2014

What do Venezuelans do for a living? (I)

Share of employment per economic sector and region F: formal sector, I: informal workers
"What do Venezuelans do for a living?" There is a lot we could say about this and it is quite complicated. One thing that has always been quite clear is that the country has an extreme case of the rentier model whereby an oil-exporting state has distributed for many decades oil revenues in a more or less corrupt, inefficient way. Although about 45% of the population live from what is called "informal jobs", which are mostly based on selling each other Chinese and US imports on the streets or working as illegal taxi drivers or empanada vendors, the government uses a lot of foreign apologists to tell the world Venezuela only has about 7% of unemployment, compared with 26% in Spain.

Let's start examining things a wee bit deeper. I plotted the chart above with data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (INE). Although that organisation has become more or less a propaganda tool for the current government, it still has some interesting data.

I retrieved labour-related figures for all of Venezuela plus 4 regions: 

  • Portuguesa, a mostly agricultural, semi-rural state in the Venezuelan flat-lands, the Llanos.
  • Miranda, a North-Central, mostly very urban state with opposition Capriles as governor, a region where half of the capital is located and most of the better-off areas
  • Zulia, a huge, very varied Western state with the second largest city in the country and a strong oil sector but also some agriculture and very rural areas and
  • Delta Amacuro, a mostly rural area occupied, as the name implies, by a huge delta - that of the Orinoco River, the place where the native American Warao live.
The story is: how many people work in what economy sector. The sectors used by the INE are fuzzy at most. The category "services" includes stuff as dissimilar as a public employee working as secretary for the mayor and a software engineer working for a private company. There are two columns for each region: one representing the percentage of people in the formal or legal sector and one for the informal sector.

As you can see, Portuguesa and to a certain extent Delta Amacuro have a much larger agriculture share. Miranda's share on finance is larger than the average. Zulia has the most on the energy (mainly oil) sector. Most of the people in the construction sector are working as illegal employees - without any real security.

But there are some things that are more remarkable. Take the service sector in Delta Amacuro. This might be one of the reasons why that region is one of the most pro-government there is: its population heavily depends on "services" as state employees.

Of course, the amount of workers in each state needs to be put in perspective. Here you can see totals per region, again two sets (formal and informal) for each state:
Total workers per region, sector and whether it's formal or informal

As you can see, the Delta region is a drop in the ocean of the (actually small) Venezuelan economy. But things become more interesting if you mind some other factors (to be continued)

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