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87289Major Costa Rican Employers Predicting 2009 Growth

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  • Tom Rosenberger
    Feb 1, 2009
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      According to El Financiero, some of Costa Rica's major employers are
      planning on maintaining and or increasing their payrolls in 2009. In
      the shadow of a decelerating economy and a downturn in new job growth,
      some companies are preparing to add employees. Major employers have
      been revising their strategies, based on payroll information provided
      by the Social Security System (CCSS).
      Those organizations with the best performance are talking about
      keeping up their pace and searching for new opportunities. HP
      (Hewlett-Packard) is the company with the greatest employment growth
      (161% during the past three years), and is planning to employ as many
      as 8,000 people in Costa Rica in 2009. According to María Luisa
      González, human resource manager of HP in Costa Rica, "Hewlett Packard
      is expanding its printing solution portfolio with the intention of
      capitalizing on the market now evolving from analog to digital."
      In the private sector, Sergio Gallardo, human resource manager of
      United Supermarket Corporation owned by Wal-Mart Central America,
      indicated that their staff will grow based on local expansion plans.
      Additionally, Grupo Empresarial de Supermercados (GESSA), #2 in the
      top ten ranking, is also predicting growth. Alejandro Oreamuno, GESSA
      human resource manager, indicated that in 2009 they will proceed with
      their strategy to increase their presence in different regions, which
      allowed them to grow 20% in 2007 and 34% in 2008. "Our group has
      experienced significant personnel growth because we have opened stores
      in different markets."
      The size of the payroll isn't the problem; obtaining new business in
      the current economic environment is the challenge.
      This conclusion is supported by the Manpower survey about employment
      expectations during the first quarter this year. Although the
      indicator dropped ten points compared to last quarter (from 29% to
      19%), employers are still planning to add not subtract employees: 61%
      of those asked said they would maintain their payroll, 28% said it
      would increase whereas only 9% expect layoffs. Eric Quesada, regional
      director of Manpower, pointed out that despite the current economy,
      Costa Rica remains one of the few countries in Latin America where
      employment loss hasn't been as dramatic as in other regions.
      However, a genuine challenge lies ahead. Quesada stated that the
      international financial crisis could have aftershocks in the country
      because the reduction in the foreign demand of goods will effect
      employment. According to Procomer, exporters employ 409,439 people in
      Costa Rica (21% of the workforce). The generation of new jobs slid
      from 96,000 new jobs in 2007 to only 32,000 in 2008: a 66% decline.
      This is why the National Employment Rescue Plan promoted by President
      Arias is a needed. The plan's purpose is to prevent additional
      unemployment. And the government's role as an employer needs to be
      carefully balanced because of the countries top ten employers, six
      belong to government entities, three to production unions and only one
      to the private sector. The Ministry of Public Education (MEP)
      maintained its high ranking while the Public Works and Transport
      Ministry (MOPT) slid in the ranking (dropping 8%). Banco de Costa Rica
      (BCR) is the entity with the greatest public sector employment
      increase (28%).
      In 2008, associations experienced fluctuations: from a solid 20%
      growth in three of the top ten leaders, to standstills or losses in
      three others. The Union of Small and Medium Agriculture Producers rose
      to first place, followed by the Union of Independent Producers and
      Various Activities (UPIAV). The agricultural industry is restoring its
      potential to be one of the main employers in Costa Rica.
      Costa Rica's major employers have changed in recent years: 60% are in
      private sector, 23% in the public sector and 17% are associations. In
      this new environment the private sector companies are strongly
      emerging. According to María Luisa González, human resource manager of
      HP in Costa Rica, "Despite the downturn in the economy, Hewlett
      Packard is moderately optimistic about 2009." She's projecting
      approximately 250 new employees will be hired each month, in a
      continuous search based on prospects that speak English in the
      information technology, customer service and accounting areas.
      Alejandro Oreamuno, of GESSA added, "It`s an old adage; only with
      business growth can the payroll increase and only with good workers
      can the business stay afloat."
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