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Costa Rica unemployment falls but remains at historic levels

January 7, 2021

Unemployment in Costa Rica was 21.3% in the moving quarter from September to November, a historically high level as a result of the pandemic, although the figure is slightly lower than the immediately preceding quarter.

The index continued the slight improvements characterized by recent months. From August to October, unemployment was 21.9%, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).

At the same time, the most recent data represent an unemployment rate that is 8.8 percentage points larger than during the same period in 2019, the INEC indicated.

The agency pointed out that unemployment especially affects women — 28.1% unemployment, compared to 16.8% for men.

Unemployment in Costa Rica was 12% in March 2020, one of the highest levels recorded by the country to date, but it soared to 24% in the May-July quarter as the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Since then, it has gradually fallen, but unemployment still remains far above the pre-pandemic levels.

María Luz Sanarrusia, coordinator of the INEC employment survey, noted that the commerce and services sectors were those that had the greatest job losses due to the pandemic.

The official added that the pandemic also caused an increase in underemployment, which is at 22%, due to the fact that many people had reduced working hours.

Underemployment refers to people who work less than 40 hours a week and are available to work more.

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