26 MILLION JOBS LOST IN LAT AM, CARIBBEAN REGIONS
The Latin American and Caribbean region lost 26 million jobs as a result of the pandemic, and started 2021 with a complex employment landscape aggravated by new waves of contagion and slow vaccination processes that make the prospects for recovery in labor markets more uncertain, says a new technical note from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
"The quest for better normality will require ambitious action to recover from setbacks in the world of work", warned Vinícius Pinheiro, ILO Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, when commenting on the note, which presents the latest data on the impact of COVID-19 over the past year.
"It is now time to rebuild the jobs lost by the pandemic and create new decent work opportunities," Pinheiro said, noting that despite adversity, action must be taken and consensus reached so that "2021 is the year of vaccination and economic recovery with more and better jobs".
However, the ILO Regional Director highlighted that "in the pursuit of recovery, addressing pre-existing conditions in the region will be unavoidable and those conditions are key to understanding why the impact of the pandemic on employment was so strong. Many of the challenges we had before the pandemic remain in place, although they are now more urgent".
"High informality, small fiscal spaces, persistent inequality, low productivity and poor coverage of social protection, coupled with problems that still persist such as child labor and forced labor, are part of the ongoing challenges in the region", he added.
The ILO regional technical note, "The employment crisis in the pandemic: Towards a human-centered job recovery", emphasizes that the labor impacts were devastating in the second quarter of 2020 when the employment and participation indicators plummeted, and then partially recovered.
However, by the end of 2020, the region's average employment rate had fallen from 57.4 percent to 51.7 percent, a sharp drop equated to the loss of around 26 million jobs, of which 80 percent, or more than 20 million people, left the workforce.
This significant exit from the workforce was unprecedented and has been characteristic of 2020. By comparison, the unemployment rate has only partially reflected the magnitude of the difficulties faced by labor markets in the region, increasing by just over 2 percentage points between 2019 and 2020, from 8.3 percent to 10.6 percent.
This situation would have begun to change, explained Roxana Maurizio, ILO Regional Labour Economics Specialist and author of the technical note, who commented that in 2021 there could be "a significant increase in the employment rate when millions of people who had ceased to participate in the labor force return to the workforce".