Leveraging Data to Build an Efficient Labor Market in Central America

Project Duration
October 2017
September 2022
Funding and Year

All economies, whether in the United States or in Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras), need timely, accurate information to fuel efficiencies in their labor markets. These efficiencies, in turn, help ensure social stability and contribute to economic growth – both within countries and beyond. This project will seek to strengthen labor market information systems in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to create useful labor market intelligence -- helping workers to find jobs, employers to fill the skills gap and economies to grow.

The Problem

The economies of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) face multiple labor market barriers, including economic stagnation, labor market inefficiency and segmentation, and gang violence. These barriers are forcing workers to seek opportunities elsewhere and are placing those that stay at greater risk. Central America’s weak labor market information systems contribute to the region’s high poverty rates and socio-economic distress because the lack of accurate, timely, and transparent labor market information makes it difficult to identify job opportunities and properly train the workforce to be able to fill them to support economic growth.  Students and job seekers do not always know what jobs are in demand (including in what regions) and what education/skills/qualifications are needed for those jobs; education and training providers do not develop classes and programs that directly fulfill the existing demand for workers; and employers are often not able to identify and hire qualified workers.  Lack of labor market information also impedes government agencies, international donors, and policymakers from crafting and implementing effective labor market policies designed to increase employment.  Central American governments’ pursuit of ambitious policies for employment creation will have limited effect without comprehensive data.  

Our Strategy

The project’s goal is to increase the efficiency of Central America's labor markets by strengthening their information systems to create useful labor market intelligence. The project will work with all three countries to refine their existing hard labor market data by providing technical assistance and training on refining their existing household surveys and helping them to create and deliver surveys of establishments.  To build the capacity of the three countries to produce usable data, the project will provide technical assistance and training to each government on how to obtain and refine labor market data from local institutions and other government bureaus.  The project will also promote the creation of virtual labor exchanges that pool labor market data from a variety of sources into a data-rich platform for workers to explore training opportunities and find jobs as well as for employers to hire workers with the skills they need. Stronger labor market information systems benefit workers, who will get jobs more quickly; employers, who will have their human capital needs met more efficiently; and economies, which will see increased growth. 

American Institutes for Research
Implementing Partners:
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in El Salvador, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Guatemala, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Honduras
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4900 / Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)
Labor Administration
Labor Market Information (LMI) Systems