Improving economy could stabilize Mexico

Mexico’s government is working hard to put out good news about its people and economy. We can only hope the news is true.

President Felipe Calderon announced last week that Mexico’s economy has created 382,000 new jobs this year, and that the country is moving toward economic recovery. Labor Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcon said the nation’s unemployment rate has steadily declined, and was at 4.8 percent in March, down from 5.4 percent in February.

Lozano Alarcon said most of the new jobs were in manufacturing, construction and services.

Few people will believe Mexico’s unemployment rate really is better than the U.S. rate, which is at 9.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. After all, millions of Mexicans wouldn’t be coming to this country if they could find gainful work at home. Mexico, however, lists anyone who has worked, regardless of the number of hours, as employed. The CIA Factbook estimates that 25 percent or more of Mexicans are underemployed.

Still, we hope the announcements show real improvement in Mexico’s economy. Increasing the labor pool, and the economic improvement that would grow from it, would benefit the country in many ways.

The obvious primary benefit is getting more money into more residents’ pockets. This would help reduce poverty, increase production and attract new investment. That would spur more trade, which would help lead to even more growth.

As noted earlier, more Mexican workers will likely stay home if they can find work there. This would keep families together there and reduce illegal immigration into the United States, which once again has become a point of contention among many Americans — even though immigration has fallen significantly during our own recession.

Increased wealth could also help reduce the rampant crime that is smothering Mexico. People who have honest jobs might find the illicit drug trade, with its many risks, less attractive. Residents would have more resources to protect themselves against any incidental crime such as burglary and kidnapping. And if that wealth leads to better screening, and better compensation, for police and other municipal and state workers, the country might see a decrease in the amount of corruption that robs the country from so many of its assets.

Mexico still has a long way to go before it reaches any level of economic and social stability. But any improvement in the conditions of its residents is a good sign.

We hope such improvements continue.