By Lucien Chauvin
Panama: Building a deficit
Construction is driving Panama's economy, and the infrastructure boom goes far beyond the canal expansion, with mining set to increase. But budget worries still lurk in the background
If the Panamanian government was looking for an appropriate way
to portray its current economic bonanza, its search could end
with the country's coat of arms.
Commissioned nearly 110 years ago, it is the only one of its
kind in Latin America that includes a shovel and a pick. They
were meant as symbols of work and are as appropriate today as
they were more than a century ago.
Panama is flush with jobs and finished 2012 with an
unemployment rate at 4%, the lowest in its history and well
below the regional average of 6.4%. Unemployment in Panama a
decade ago was 12%, which was above the regional average,
according to the World Bank. The commerce ministry reported
that 28,986 new businesses were created in 2012, not only
representing nearly $1 billion in investment but creating close
to 100,000 new jobs.
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