* State slashed 600,000 jobs since 2009
* Small business sector employs over 450,000
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, Feb 24 Cuba continued to shed state jobs
and move workers into the private sector in 2013, according to a
report issued by the official labor federation at the weekend,
as President Raul Castro pressed forward with reforms to the
The Cuban Communist Party adopted plans in 2011 to
"modernize" the economy in search of greater efficiency and
improved salaries for state workers.
The plan includes shedding secondary economic activity in
favor of markets, private businesses, cooperatives and leasing
systems, while concentrating resources on major state-run
companies in hopes of making them more competitive.
The official Juvented Rebelde newspaper said on Sunday that
the main report approved by the labor federation's congress over
the weekend stated more than 10 percent of state jobs had been
cut since 2009.
"Jobs in the state civil sector have decreased by 596,500
since 2009," Juventud Rebelde quoted the report as stating.
Cuba has a potential labor force of over 6 million, of which
5 million were reported employed in 2012, the last official
At the same time, the number of private, or "non-state"
workers as Cuba calls them, rose to over 1 million in 2012,
close to double the number reported in 2009.
The majority of the non-state workers were farmers, whose
numbers have grown under Castro's agricultural reforms, which
include leasing state lands to individuals. The goal is to
stimulate local food production and cut the need for
budget-draining food imports.
The rest of the non-state workers, just over 400,000 in
2012, were mostly in small retail businesses or self-employed
such as carpenters, seamstresses, photographers and taxi
The report approved at the congress, which met in Havana
last week, said that figure "increased to more than 450,000"
"If Cuba is to emerge from its economic inefficiency, it is
crucially important to promote a mixed economy-with key sectors
under state control, but with opportunities for small- and
medium-sized enterprises," John Kirk, one of Canada's leading
academic experts on Latin America and author of a number of
books on Cuba, said by email.
"There has been noticeable improvement in the services
provided by small businesses and cooperatives, and these
initiatives should be encouraged," he said.
The cash-strapped state is closing thousands of its small
retail outlets such as barbershops and cafeterias, notorious for
economic inefficiency and employee theft, and offering to lease
the premises to employees or others interested in running their
Last year the state turned more than 200 small and
medium-sized businesses -- from restaurants, shrimp breeding and
produce markets to recycling, construction and light
manufacturing -- into private cooperatives. Hundreds more were
expected to become cooperatives this year.
The government hopes to slash 20 percent of the state labor
force, or nearly a million jobs, from its bloated payrolls, by