Even before a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated much of the country in 2010, many Haitians struggled to earn anything close to a living wage. As the country continues to rebuild, one strategy embraced by the United States and Haitian governments has been the development of export-oriented industries, particularly apparel. The apparel sector has grown by more than 45% since the earthquake. In 2013, the industry represented 9% of Haiti’s GDP and 89% of its export earnings. Unfortunately, these gains are not reaching workers.
Three years after the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti, workers and their families continue to struggle as the cost of living keeps rising while wages—for those who have jobs—remain the same. Informal discussions by the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center staff with Haitian export-processing workers this month indicate that in the past year, the cost of food and education has increased between 20% and 25%, while rent and transportation have risen between 15% and 20%.