Almost 48 out of every 100 people in Panama work informally

A small table in which there is masks and bags con grains is the improvised trade from Sonora Espinosa, a 60-year-old unemployed woman looking for her daily livelihood on the busy Central Avenue of the Panamanian capital.

The hustle and bustle of December is over and in these first weeks of January the movement in the famous Peatonal, as Central Avenue is also known, is very slow.

In this boulevard Coincide Warehouses, permanent posts of peddlers, What are they small premisess that they have a municipal permit, and vendors wandering e improvised like Sonora, who shouts “masks” while showing off her product.

“It was busier in December but now, and in the previous months, it has been very sad. There is no money, people just pass by (on the boulevard) to clear their minds full of worries, but the money is not there. There are days when they make me hard and difficult”the woman stated bitterly.

sound, what lives with her husband, also sexagenarian and unemployedThe, ran a school cafeteriar until the pandemic forced in March 2020 to closure of schools in the country. He assured that none of the nine people who worked there now have a formal occupation.

He hopes that with the reopening of schools next March he will be able to resume the cafeteria business, whose untimely closure almost two years ago due to the health emergency caused “an enormous loss, more than 5,000 dollars” in products.


Sonora Espinosa is part of 47.6% of economically active people That find in lthe informal economy in Panama, that is to say, 677.875, according official data last October.

In 2019, before the pandemic, the informality rate era of 44,9 %. In the midst of a health emergency climbed 52.8% and the unemployment at 18.5%, the highest rate high in 20 years, according to official data September 2020, year in which the economy collapsed 17.9%.

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Dependent of the services and very linked to the external sector, the panamanian economy has started to recuperate: I know expanded 14.9% between January and september 2021 and the unemployment He stood at 11,3 % in October last.

But for Rolando Gordón, dean of the Faculty of Economics of the state University of Panama (UP), the main one in the country, in 2022 it will be “difficult” to improve employment levels.

“The employment that is being generated is informal,” which has an impact on the state’s finances “because the informal sector does not pay direct taxes,” Gordon told Efe.


Ricaurte Ruse He is a 41-year-old Panamanian whoand has more from 16 as an informal vendor in a fixed position andn the Pedestrian. He acknowledges in conversation with Efe that in recent times “there are many people that have raided en this of the peddling”.

Many ask me ‘what can I sell, what can I do? They are people who are not into this (selling on the street) but the pandemic has forced them“, stressed Ruse, who with his “dry merchandise” stand, as they call clothes and accessories, supports, sometimes with great difficulty, his wife and three children.

For Mario Antonio Rosh, 50 years and overand 30 as an informal seller, “there is a big need, there are hungry in this country” for cause of the pandemic.

I know many people who had a job in construction or another type of job and have ended up selling peddlers, even on the streets. I know that the need has a dog face, that many people feel sorry for this, but they have had to do it for their children, and I have seen a quite remarkable increase, “ assured.

Raul Palacios, 43 years old, worked how Contratista in a edifice “but the pandemic ended everything Y had to go back to peddling, that “it’s not that bad”, but “the economy is not good, because there are about 40% – 50% of people working and the rest are on the streets, watching what is being done”.

“A permanent job is something that is safe for the family and the home, that has so many expenses, and sometimes the peddlers don’t come out as much for the expense,” said Palacios, who asked the government and private companies “to find a solution.” unemployment and informality. EFE

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