Private sector employs 31% of young Cubans


HAVANA, Sept  7   Thirty-one percent of the young people employed in Cuba, more than 1.5 million people, worked in the private sector and the rest were in jobs in the state-run sector at the close of 2014, according to official figures published Sunday by local media.

The head of employment in the Labor and Social Security Ministry, or MTSS, Jesus Otamendiz, said in an interview published in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper that “there are a considerable number of young people in the new forms of management,” as the autonomous or private sector is called on the communist island.

Of the 504,613 people registered as working for themselves or autonomously at the end of May 2015, 166,605 were young people, representing 31 percent of the people who had selected that form of employment, he said.

In addition, Otamendiz said that at the end of 2014, 4.97 million people were employed in Cuba and just under 1.53 million of them were young people, representing 31 percent of the labor force.

The MTSS chief also said that “the majority” of young people are still employed in the state-run sector, although they are increasingly moving into the private sector.

He said that 60 percent of the total number of young people working “for themselves” live in the provinces of Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Camagüey, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba, and they are employed mainly in activities such as food preparation and sales, cargo and passenger transport.

The broadening of the private sector is one of the main reforms undertaken in recent years by the government of Raul Castro to “update” Cuba’s socialist economic model and compensate for the gradual suppression of some 500,000 state-sponsored jobs between 2011 and 2015.

In the interview, the MTSS chief discussed the challenge posed by youth employment in a country experiencing a “flexibilization of the labor market amid a changing and more complex economic environment,” which is increasingly burdened by the aging of the island’s population.

“It’s about achieving the efficient insertion of youth into the labor force, including the possibilities of employment in the non-state sector of the economy,” he said.