Latin America’s Job Market Will Take Years to Recover From Covid

The region’s unemployment rate for 2021 is expected to be 9.6% -- better than the 10.6% recorded in 2020, but still above pre-pandemic levels, said the ILO

A street vendor sells tables on Corrientes Avenue in the Balvanera neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
By Angélica Serrano-Román
February 04, 2022 | 09:17 AM

Bloomberg — The labor market crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean could drag on for the next couple of years as the economic growth of 2021 was insufficient to recover millions of jobs lost during the pandemic, according to the International Labor Organization.

The region’s unemployment rate for 2021 is expected to be 9.6% -- better than the 10.6% recorded in 2020, but still above pre-pandemic levels, the organization said in a report released Wednesday. ILO predicts weak economic growth of just over 2% this year, which will maintain the unemployment rate above 9%.

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“The labor outlook is uncertain,” Vinicius Pinheiro, ILO’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, wrote in the report. “The persistence of infections due to the pandemic and the prospect of mediocre economic growth this year could prolong the employment crisis.”

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About 4.5 million of the 49 million jobs lost between late 2019 and the second quarter of 2020 have yet to be recovered, and most of those unemployed are women, the report found. The average joblessness rate for women has remained steady throughout the pandemic at 12.4%.

Informality has also been growing: Between 60% to 80% of the jobs recovered by the third quarter of 2021 were informal, and one in two employed people are in informality, the report found.

There are still an estimated 28 million unemployed people in the region as of early 2022.