Unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean will end the year over 10 percent after 30 million jobs were lost during the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Thursday.
"The 2020 labor overview records a large increase in the unemployment rate that will increase by up to 2.5 percentage points compared to last year, going from 8.1 percent to 10.6 percent," said the ILO in its regional annual report on employment.
"This means that the number of job seekers that cannot find (employment) will increase by 5.4 million and reach 30.1 million" people, said the body.
Things are expected to get worse before they get better, with the ILO predicting unemployment will rise to 11.2 percent in 2021 despite a moderate economic growth of 3.5 percent.
Uncertainty over the evolution of the pandemic, the possibility of a new wave of infections and the delay in acquiring vaccines for the region have all contributed to the pessimistic projections.
"Employment is in an intensive care unit, we need to take the necessary measures to get out of this healthily and with prosperity and sustainable employment growth," said ILO regional director Vinicius Pinheiro.
"It's imperative to achieve economic growth through employment. Employment is crucial to reduce poverty and confront the increase in inequalities the pandemic is leaving behind."
"The region has been very hard hit by this crisis, more so than others in the world."
The region has high levels of social inequality and a large informal labor market.