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Unemployment in Costa Rica at 22% as pandemic effects continue

November 6, 2020

Unemployment in Costa Rica reached 22% in the July-September quarter, slightly lower than the previous period but still severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the official statistical agency reported Thursday.

“Among the conditions revealed by the people who were unemployed, it stands out primarily that it was due to the closure of businesses due to the absence of clients,” the the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) said, indicating that the health emergency played a significant role.

Unemployment rose 10.6 percentage points compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, underemployment — when people work less than 40 hours a week and want to work more — reached 25.8%, a increase of 14.2 percentage points over last year.

INEC noted that people of all education levels are experiencing increased unemployment levels, but it has particularly impacted those who didn’t complete secondary school.

More than half (68%) of the unemployed population say they have been searching for a job for six months or fewer. Nearly all (95%) reported affectation due to the pandemic, either causing them to lose their previous job or preventing them from finding a new one.

The percentage of employed with informal employment is 44.5%, which represents at least 822,000 people.

The 22% unemployment rate is slightly lower than Costa Rica’s record high of 24.4%, which the country reached from May to July 2020.

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