34 million workers lost jobs in Latin America and Caribbean region due to pandemic: report

The International Labour Organization study based on nine major economies in Latin America and the Caribbean says there was a 21% contraction in working hours in the first three quarters of 2020

October 01, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
COVID19 ILO report

According to a new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, released on September 30, Wednesday, around 34 million workers have lost their jobs in nine countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. This constitutes 80% of the total economically active population in the region. Though some of the job losses are temporary in nature and certain jobs are expected to be restored once the effects of the lockdown are over, the study estimates that recovery to a pre-COVID-19 scenario will take a longer period.

The report titled ‘Labour overview in the time of COVID-19: Impacts on the Labour Market and income in Latin America and the Caribbean’ is based on the data collected from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay.

It says that in terms of loss of working hours in the first three quarters of 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean topped the other regions of the world with almost 21% contraction – almost double of the world average of 11.7%.

According to the findings, the total labor income in these countries has decreased by over 19%. The second quarter was the worst affected, with a loss of over 33.5% in terms of work hours. The average unemployment rate for these nine countries in the second quarter was 11.5%, 2% higher than in the previous quarter.  

The report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented economic contraction in the region. As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the economy of the region is expected to contract around 10% this year.

Addressing a press conference on the report’s release, ILO officials argued that, “the deficit of formal work will become more evident for certain groups of workers such as young people, women and adults with lower qualifications.” The report points out that the present economic contraction has left women and young workers in the most vulnerable situation. The long-term impact of this will be an increased gender gap in the workforce and in incomes.  

It also notes that while there were preliminary signs of recovery in the third quarter, with the workforce gradually returning to work, it will take a very long time for income levels and employment rates to go back to pre-COVID-19 levels.