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Costa Rica unemployment rate remains elevated at 18.7%

May 7, 2021

Unemployment in Costa Rica was 18.7% in the moving quarter from January to March 2021, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec).

This represents a small increase (0.2 percentage points) compared to the moving quarter from December to February.

Compared to the same quarter of last year, unemployment in Costa Rica has increased by 6.2 percentage points. Women continue to have a higher unemployment rate than men — 26.1% and 13.7%, respectively.

Informal employment represents 46.6% of those with jobs. That comprises nearly 929,000 Costa Ricans.

Meanwhile, the INEC calculated the underemployment rate — the percentage of employed people who work fewer than 40 hours a week and want to work more hours — at 16.4%, a 4 p.p. year-over-year increase.

The working-age population outside the workforce was estimated at 1.58 million people, a statistically significant increase of 126,000 compared to last year.

The drop in employment continues to be associated with commerce and services activities (186,000 people), especially in education and health, and hotels and restaurants.

Unemployment in Costa Rica had reached 12% in March 2020, already one of the highest levels recorded in the country until then, but it soared to 24% due to the impact of the pandemic in the moving quarter from May to July 2020.

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