Employment and informality
Middle-sector working people are not most likely to be found among the ranks of government bureaucrats, despite stereotypical views to the contrary. The share of middle-sector workers employed in government services ranges from just under 9% in Peru to 21% in Uruguay (Figure 1.3).12 It is in fact the affluent who have the highest proportion of household heads working for the government in all countries except Argentina.13
No sector is predominant among the middle sectors across all countries, though construction, transport and communication are relatively more important as sources of employment for middle-sector households than for disadvantaged or affluent ones in all countries except Peru and Uruguay (see Table 1.A1).
In addition to information on the principal sectors of employment of working middle-sector people, Table 1.A1 highlights differences in employment patterns among income categories. Sectors such as agriculture become relatively less important sources of employment as income rises in most countries: 45% of disadvantaged Mexican households, but only 5% of affluent ones, work in agriculture, for example. Conversely, employment in wholesale, hotels and restaurants becomes relatively more important in most countries as income rises.
Informality is a prominent feature of many working middle-sector households. Chapter 2 looks closely at information from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, and shows that a significant proportion of the Latin American middle sectors work in the informal sector (see Figures 2.3 to 2.6 in that chapter). The income category to which most informal workers belong in absolute terms (with the exception of Bolivia) is the middle sector – and there are more informal than formal workers among the middle sectors and the disadvantaged in all cases except Chile.