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Costa Rica unemployment continues to fall, but remains high

February 4, 2021

Unemployment in Costa Rica reached 20% of the workforce in the last quarter of 2020, a figure lower than in previous months but still elevated, the official statistical agency reported Thursday.

In the moving quarter from October to December, the index maintained a slight downward trend after it had reached 21.3% in the three months ending in November, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).

However, unemployment in the last quarter of 2020 was 7.6 percentage points higher than   the same period in 2019, the INEC indicated.

“There is a tendency to decrease, slowly, gradually, with respect to this period of the pandemic,” said María Luz Sanarrusa, coordinator of the INEC employment survey.

Unemployment in Costa Rica had reached 12% in March of last year, one of the highest levels registered in the country until then. It soared due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to 24% in the moving quarter from May to July.

The INEC specified that the lack of employment continues to disproportionately affect women — 25.2% unemployment, compared to 16.4% of men.

The statistical agency also says 20.6% of the working population is underemployed; that is, they work less than 40 hours a week and would like to work more.

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