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More and More Nicas End Up Unemployed, Seek To Survive In Informality

In Nicaragua, there are some 215,078 people unemployed

“When you lose your job, you have to find what to do,” the owner of a new food business, located on Calle del Colonial in Managua, told El Nuevo Diario.

Many of the Nicaraguans who fall into unemployment seek to survive by installing small family businesses.

It occurred to him to sell breakfast in the morning and tortillas in the afternoon and baptize his business as Tortilleria Quintana.

In May of 2018 he was fired. He had worked for several years for a company that manufactures and distributes animal feed, eggs and fertilizer, but the socio-political crisis came and he lost his job.

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The man spoke briefly with the newspaper, but did not want to give more details about his business and refused to identify himself out of fear. “This is dangerous. You can not trust anyone in this country,” he said.

This is just one of the Nicaraguans who lost their job after the socio-political crisis in Nicaragua began in April of last year, and they had no choice but to enter the informal workforce – a workforce that operates outside the norm.

He is not alone.


According to the Informe de Empleo (Employment Report), of the most recent Continuous Household Survey, of the National Institute of Development Information (INIDE), until the third quarter of 2018 the unemployment rate of Nicaragua was 6.2%, increasing 2.9 percentage points with respect to to the unemployment rate of the third quarter of 2017, which was 3.3%.

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That is, according to that official source, in Nicaragua, there are some 215,078 people unemployed, with respect to the economically active population, which is estimated at 3.5 million people. Before the crisis in the country there were 114,477 people unemployed.

On the other hand, in 2018, more than 157,900 formal jobs were lost, according to official sources. These are measured by the number of workers who are affiliated with the Instituto Nicaragüense de Seguridad Social (INSS) – the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS).

The construction sector has lost momentum since last year and with it thousands of jobs disappeared.

At the end of December 2017, according to the INSS Statistical Yearbook, there were 913,797 insured persons in the country, but it closed 2018 with 755,874 workers in its records.

The Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides) estimated last February that of the people who left formal employment about 85,000 went to informality.


Gina Hidalgo and Jonathan Solís also lost their jobs as a result of the start of the country’s sociopolitical crisis.

At the beginning, she had no choice but to look for what to sell, to survive. So she started selling pinolillo and chocobananos, while he did freelance work.

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Today, Hidalgo and Solís are partners in a digital marketing company that provides social network management services.

“At the beginning, I missed being at my company and at the office. I needed the routine, but since September, we started signing contracts, to date, it has been a learning experience, to have direct contacts with customers, collect (money) and prepare invoices, and we both think that we have done well and that it has been a beautiful experience,” said Gina Hidalgo.

Another entrepreneur who emerged after losing his job, as a result of the crisis, is Moisés Benavides. This graphic designer said that the advertising company for which he worked was declared bankrupt and had to lay off workers.

Benavides started to work from his home and fortunately has gotten clients who looked for him when the company for which he worked closed. He currently provides design services for digital advertising.

For Benavides, the change from having a fixed job to working on his own has involved a change in his lifestyle. “I no longer see the expenses as before, because I did not earn so badly. Now I try not to spend on the unnecessary,” he said.

According to Funides, in 2019 more than 143,600 Nicaraguans could leave the formal labor market and the recent reforms to social security in Nicaragua and the economic contraction of the country will cause this year a decrease of insured workers of more than 19%.

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