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Unemployment in Costa Rica continues climbing to record highs

September 11, 2020

Unemployment in Costa Rica reached 24.4% in the moving quarter from May to July, the highest ever recorded in the country, as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the official statistics agency reported Thursday.

The figure reflects a slight increase from the moving quarter of April to June, when the unemployment rate reached 24%, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).

It also represents an increase of 12.9 percentage points from the same period in 2019.

“These months reflect the state of affectation in the indicators of the labor market due to the measures of confinement and restriction of movement taken in the country in order to contain the pandemic,” INEC said in a statement.

Unemployment in Costa Rica is disproportionately affecting women — 30.2% compared to 20.7% for men, according to INEC figures.

Meanwhile, 24.6% of the economically active population is underemployed; that is, they work fewer hours than they would like. The figure is 14.1 percentage points higher than the same period in 2019.

Costa Rica bets on tourism

Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura indicated that a reopening to international visitors is a way to “contribute to the defense of employment” in Costa Rica.

Thursday, Segura announced that tourists from eight more U.S. states will be welcomed to Costa Rica over the coming weeks.

The United States is the main source of tourists in Costa Rica, comprising between 45% and 50% of the more than 3 million foreigners who visited the Central American country annually before the pandemic.

Tourism “is a sector that generated almost 220,000 direct jobs and some 400,000 indirect jobs last year,” Segura said when announcing the new states.

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