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Mexico's joblessness spurs Fox policy shift

(Thursday, July 31, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Associated Press, 07/28/03: MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's government has abandoned the idea of the "neoliberal economy" to concentrate on developing internal markets, President Vicente Fox said in his weekend radio address.

President Fox gathered his economy and labor secretaries for the Saturday radio program, days after Mexico reported its highest monthly unemployment rate since the president took office more than two years ago.

The latest unemployment statistics prompted public criticism that the Fox administration hasn't done enough to stimulate employment.

"Starting now, our absolute priority is the strengthening of internal markets, the generation of employees, self-employment and family income." President Fox told radio listeners. "We have left aside the idea of a neoliberal economy that had shown little success in the past."

Distancing himself from so-called neoliberal policies -- which in general emphasize the reduction of government regulation and the privatization of state enterprises -- President Fox said his administration has protected family resources by controlling inflation and interest rates. The president said recent job losses were mainly at manufacturing and assembly plants and mostly among large businesses. He said construction jobs have increased because of public works projects and increases in home construction spurred by more accessible credit.

Mexico's unemployment rate among the economically active population increased to 3.2% in June, up from 2.7% in May. The economically active population includes about 40 million of Mexico's 104 million residents, excluding the legions of Mexicans who work part-time because Mexicans who work at least one hour a day are considered employed.

Mr. Fox announced Wednesday the allocation of $10 million to train and assist the unemployed and said new tax and financing measures were planned.