Monday, July 29, 2013

53.3 million - that's how many Mexicans live in poverty

Government programs have accomplished little, notes Peña Nieto cabinet secretary

*Updated Oct. 16 - extreme poverty by state*
Guadalajara -
Two weeks ago MGR reported that over 60% of Jaliscans earn less than a mere subsistence income.

In practical terms what that means is that their income is under 6,900 pesos (about $550) per month, the estimated minimum needed for food, household products, fuel, transportation costs, basic services and children's educational needs. Even skilled or better educated workers who earn two or three times the minimum wage of $5 dollars per day fall short of the mark. That's why University of Guadaljara researchers recently reported that "Jalisco residents can't afford basic necessities, much less enjoy themselves, or save something back."

In January the State Secretary of Labor reported that an average worker in this state earns less than 6,000 pesos per month - about $480 dollars, or $5,760 annually. And while that number may seem shockingly low, it's far more than many Mexicans have available to them.

Mexico is a nation of 118 million, with a median age of about 26. Today a federal agency, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (known by its Spanish acronym, CONEVAL), reported that 53.3 million of them are living at or below the official poverty line. That's exactly 45% of the country. And poverty Mexican style makes its American cousin look like wealth by comparison.

CONEVAL measures poverty by reference to two standards: food acquisition power, and the cost of food plus other basic necessities of life which were used in the recent Guadalajara study. CONEVAL found that in urban areas, a person needs at least 1,177 pesos a month just to eat. At an exchange rate of 12.5 pesos to the dollar, that's less than $95 dollars per month, or about $3 dollars a day. In rural areas the threshold is far lower. The full CONEVAL report, with graphs and charts, is here.

Mexico has the 2nd largest Latin American economy, but the charts show nearly half struggle to eat

It is difficult to imagine how anyone in a city the size of Guadalajara could actually survive on such a paltry daily allowance, but tens of thousands do. That's why beggars are everywhere, at all hours of the day and night, pitifully soliciting a a few coins to buy something from ever-present food vendors. To their credit many Mexicans give what they can, even though they, too, may be existing in marginal conditions. Mexico has 14th largest global economy, but citizens rank 81st in food purchasing power.

CONEVAL also noted that 71.4 million of the country's 118 million citizens - 60.5% - are not entitled to social security benefits of any type. In large part that's due to the "informal employment" economy which the new administration is trying to move away from. Mexican debt and local leap, while Peña Nieto announces plans to get more workers on real payrolls.

As MGR reported in January, the number of persons at the very bottom of the economic barrel has soared in the past 30 months. Mexico's impoverished grew by more than 11% in two years. The new Institutional Revolutionary Party government, very much aware that seven of 10 Mexican households routinely report food shortages, has given poverty related issues front and center attention since it took office in December. Enrique Peña Nieto's three smart decisions. But that may not be enough.

Mexico's economy, which performed quite well in 2012 and started out with high expectations at the beginning of this year, has nosedived in recent weeks. The director of the central bank has offered a very gloomy forecast for the rest of 2013. Banixco raises storm flag warning on Mexican economy.

Last week the country's secretary of social development, Rosario Robles Berlanga, told an audience that government stimulus programs haven't helped to pull most Mexican families out of dire poverty. She noted that incomes have continued to fall over the last two years, especially of female workers in the labor force, who often are the sole head of the household. "Without blaming anybody, it may be time to consider changing our approach to the problem," said Robles. But she offered no alternatives.

Jan. 5, 2014 - U.K. report: life is getting harder, not easier for Mexicans
Jan. 26, 2014 - Hay 53 millones de mexicanos en pobreza

Oct. 12 - In a land where many are poor, Mexican millionaires are increasing by leaps and bounds
July 29 - Mexican Left lambasts poverty war: "a massive failure"

Jan. 3, 2013 - Mexican governors raise their salaries, while almost half the nation remains in poverty
Nov. 16 - Gross economic disparity still a hard fact of Mexican life
Nov. 11 - Seven of 10 Mexican households report food shortages
Oct. 17 - Ending poverty key focus of incoming PRI government
July 23 - Enrique Peña Nieto's biggest challenges will be economy and environment, not drug cartels
Apr. 23 - Economic inequality is the primary cause of Mexico's insecurity
Feb. 10, 2012 - Increasing poverty and rising state debt result in poor economic report for Mexico

A common sight in Mérida and most Mexican cities

Oct. 16 - 74% of those who live in the most extreme poverty are in 10 of Mexico's 32 jurisdictions. Chiapas, Guerrero (Acapulco) and Oaxaca easily lead the pack with double digits. The three states which comprise the Yucatán peninsula have an extreme poverty average of 9.5%.
Oct. 16 - 53 de cada 100 niños en México vive en pobreza, y 12.1% la padece en extremo

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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