Ecuador unemployment fell to 3.2% in December last year -govt

QUITO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Unemployment in Ecuador last December fell to 3.2% versus the same month in 2021, the national statistics agency said on Tuesday, calling the decline a “significant reduction.”

Ecuador’s economy has seen gradual recovery after it was battered by the coronavirus pandemic, which left thousands of Ecuadoreans unemployed or working informally.

President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative former banker, has pledged to create 2 million jobs during his administration - ending in 2025 - as well as the gradual raising of the monthly minimum wage to $500.

“The national unemployment rate reached 3.2% (in December) compared to 4.1% in the same period of the previous year, that is, it experienced a significant reduction of approximately 1 percentage point,” Ecuador’s National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) said in a report.

In December, almost 267,000 Ecuadoreans were unemployed, compared to the more than 356,700 jobless people recorded in December 2021, the report said.

Under employment in Ecuador also declined in December 2022 to 19.4%, down from the 23% recorded in the same month in 2021, INEC said.

The South American country’s informal economy grew to 53.4% in December versus 50.6% in the year-earlier period, the report added.

Poverty fell to 25.2% in December last year, from 27.7% in December 2021, INEC said, while extreme poverty fell to 8.2% from 10.5%. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Daniel Wallis)