Prosperity in Guatemala

Speeches Shim

Central America Strategy

USAID works with the people of Guatemala to improve health and education outcomes and create new opportunities for investment, job growth, and expanded markets.

Working closely with government institutions, USAID and its partners implement a wide-range of projects to address the major issues hindering prosperity in Guatemala. To reduce illegal immigration, end poverty, and increase employment, USAID’s projects focus on: 1) promoting economic growth and resilience; 2) creating income-generating opportunities; and 3) strengthening health and education.

History & Context

The signing of the Peace Accords in 1996 brought a formal end to Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. However, the 36-year long conflict destroyed businesses and infrastructure, decreased the labor force, and stagnated the economy. Lack of economic opportunity is the single largest driver of illegal migration from Guatemala. In 2018, the economy created only one new job for every 15 people entering the job market. Approximately 70 percent of Guatemala’s economy is informal, characterized by low productivity, wages, and competitiveness. Without access to local economic opportunities, Guatemalans are migrating to other countries.

Currently, much of Guatemala’s workforce lacks sufficient education and training, access to financial services for small and medium-sized businesses is limited, infrastructure connecting cities is outdated, and regulations inhibit investment. While agriculture is the most labor-intensive sector in the Guatemalan economy—employing 33 percent of the population—it only contributes 13.5 percent to the gross domestic product and offers limited opportunities for prosperity and growth. This landscape makes it difficult for Guatemalans to attain a better quality of life, and by one estimate, has driven 1.5 million Guatemalans to emigrate in the last 20 years.

Issuing Country 
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - 12:00pm