(Recasts, adds economist’s comments, background details)
SANTIAGO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Amid weak economic growth, Chile’s jobless rate fell to its lowest level in nearly a year as more people became self-employed in unstable jobs without a contract, data published on Tuesday by the government’s INE statistics agency showed.
The unemployment rate for the October to December period decreased to 6.1 percent, in line with forecasts, from 6.2 percent in September to November.
“If you look at how the economic slowdown is impacting the (labor market), first, fewer jobs are being created and second, the jobs that are being created are of inferior quality,” said Hermann Gonzalez, principal economist at BBVA Research.
Most of the jobs created last year fell into the category of self-employment, which according to Gonzalez come without social security or health insurance.
Some 80,000 jobs were created in Chile last year. That compares to 200,000 jobs created when the economy of the top copper exporter was booming in 2011.
The average jobless rate for 2016 was 6.5 percent, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from a year earlier, the government’s INE statistics agency said. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bill Trott)