Virus pushes unemployment in Latin America to new highs


Although Latin American countries are beginning to lift lockdowns, the region is facing heavy economic losses and record-high unemployment rates due to the coronavirus pandemic.    

Brazil, Chile and Colombia are among the most affected countries as a result of the coronavirus crisis, despite authorities deciding to reopen their economies. 

Brazil  

Brazil’s unemployment rate rose to its highest level in two years, official figures showed Tuesday. 

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) released its report for the trimester showing that unemployment in Brazil rose to 12.9% in the March-May quarter, which means 7.8 million people lost their jobs — a record that brings the number of unemployed to 12.7 million, mainly in the informal sector. 

The total number of Brazilians in the workforce stands at 85.9 million, an 8.3% contraction from the same period last year. 

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 60,000 lives and infected more than 1.4 million people in Brazil, although experts warn that the actual number of cases may be much higher due to a lack of testing.

Chile

Unemployment in Chile in March-May stood at 11.2%, up 4.0 percentage points compared with the same period of 2019, reaching the highest level since 2010, the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported Tuesday.

“The data shows a deep deterioration that the coronavirus is leaving in employment, family income and economic activity,” Economy Minister Lucas Palacios tweeted Tuesday.

With a labor force of 8.3 million workers and a total of 940,360 unemployed, Chile’s labor market has strongly resented the restrictive measures imposed to prevent the spread of the contagion, especially in Chile’s capital of Santiago, home to seven million of the country’s nearly 18 million inhabitants.

The total number of coronavirus cases across the country stood at 279,393 on Tuesday.

Colombia

Colombia’s unemployment rate reached 21.4% in May, representing an increase of 2.1 million unemployed people compared to May 2019, when it was at 10.5%, the country’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) reported Tuesday. Likewise, the employed population stood at 17.3 million people in May, 4.9 million less than the same month in 2019.  

Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the country, with 95,269 total cases and 3,376 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.





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