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The Problem

With the richest 1% having income equal to that of the poorest 40% combined, Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in the Western Hemisphere. It is estimated that 59% of the country lives in poverty and 23% live in extreme poverty.  This naturally leads to violence, corruption, health concerns, and immigration.

 

Guatemala oddly has one of the lowest overall unemployment rates (2.7%). However, studies show that over 70% of individuals able to work are employed in informal capacities. Informal jobs pay even less than minimum wage, tend to have very poor working conditions, and do not offer benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, etc. The current official Guatemalan minimum wage is approximately USD 359 per month.  However, it is estimated, that the national average income per worker in Guatemala, is only USD 228 per month. 

 

Experts have cited lack of education as the main factor preventing citizens from accessing formal employment.  With public schooling ending at 6thgrade (and the cost of uniforms keeping most from even reaching the 6thgrade level), vocational training is almost unheard of.