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In our study, employment is defined by the set of economic activities that people identify as helping them meet basic needs. One of the most significant findings in this study is the diversity of employment in social reproduction for both men and women.

IMG_4959People engage in several economic activities to make ends meet: they sell arts and crafts, provide cleaning services, and do catalog sales (e.g., herbal medicines, cosmetics, clothes), though they don’t always do all these activities within the same time frame or frequency. Some activities are best for the weekends (e.g., braiding hair for tourists at the beach), other activities are more irregular and on a need-basis (e.g., day labor). Some activities are temporary (e.g., when the refinery requires maintenance).

The following word cloud gives a sense of the diversity and frequency of economic activities engaged by the 156 respondents in our employment survey:

word cloud

In 2014, the main types of employment described in our sample included: food preparation (“preparacion y servicio de comida”), commercial sales (“ventas”), and the sale of arts and crafts (“artesanias y manualidades”).

According to the 2010 Ecuadorean census, the main employment sectors in the province of Esmeraldas are: self-employment (25.6%), private sector (19.7%), waged day-labor (18.4%), and state employment (13.9%).

And according to the Ecuadorean census, the most common occupation for both men and women is the provision of basic social reproduction services: cleaning, domestic household maintenance, street food sellers, rural wage labor, and fisheries.

The data on employment trends we collected mirrors some of these patterns and offers a rich addition to our understanding of employment in Esmeraldas, particular in terms of the jobs people do when they enter the work force and at what age they enter the workforce.