One in four people in Latin America has not been able to regain the job they had before the pandemic.
And about half of households have not managed to bring their total income back to the pre-pandemic level, despite the fiscal aid that has been given to the most vulnerable families, according to a joint investigation by the World Bank and the United Nations Program to Development (UNDP).
Although many of the region’s economies have started to reactivate after one of the worst crises in recent decades, Latin America has not yet managed to return to the situation in which it lived in 2019.
Now that many of the tax relief is coming to an end and an inflationary wave grows strongly that travels the world, families try to get ahead with the alternatives they have at hand.
“The covid-19 pandemic evidenced pre-existing inequalities in the region, where the most vulnerable groups and the poorest have been disproportionately affected,” said Luis Felipe López-Calva, UNDP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Here are 6 figures that show the impact of the crisis and two encouraging data amid the slow economic and social recovery in Latin America.
This is one of the most sensitive topics for families. Occupancy is still below pre-pandemic levels, but what is most disturbing is that the quality of available work has worsened.
27% of those who had a job before the pandemic are without work, according to data collected through telephone surveys carried out by international organizations until June of this year.
By country, the most critical cases are those of Haiti, Colombia and Panama.
2. Informal work
When comparing the situation that existed before the pandemic with what is happening today, employment decreased, informal work increased, and average weekly working hours decreased.
Many have left the workforce entirely and more than half of those who work are informally employed.
About half of the households still do not recover the full income level they had before the pandemic. 48% of families report that they have had a reduction in their income during this crisis.
The most affected countries are Haiti, Colombia and Ecuador, while Argentina, El Salvador and Honduras have managed to get closer to the situation they had in 2019 with greater speed.
4. Food insecurity
During the pandemic, food insecurity practically doubled. 24% of households were left without food due to lack of money.
And countries with the highest levels of inequality and poverty before the pandemic were the hardest hit by food shortages.
The majority of children in the region participate in some type of educational activity, although the percentage varies substantially from country to country.
Countries like Chile and Peru have the highest levels of school participation, while Guyana, Guatemala and Belize are at the opposite extreme.
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, only a quarter of the students in the region attend school in person.
The countries where they least attend in person are Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Mexico.
6. Gap between men and women
Comparing people who had a job before the pandemic and who now do not have it, 18% of men have been affected by this situation, while 39% of women suffer this aftermath of the crisis.
That’s why researchers conclude that women are more than twice as likely as men to have lost their job. Worse yet: more than half left the workforce entirely.
The reasons? Mainly the care of others in the house and the unpaid domestic work.
Two more encouraging news
Although the general picture is usually quite bleak, there are at least two sectors where the traces of the pandemic have been less severe.
The access to health services it was reestablished in most countries. In fact, the percentage of households where one of its members could not access health services only reaches 3.5%, according to the responses of those surveyed.
This does not refer to the quality of the service received, but it is data that allows us to compare the level of access to health, which during the pandemic came to collapse in some cities and countries where many people lost their lives waiting for medical attention.
And one of the positive effects highlighted by the study researchers is that there was a large increase in the use of digital services and transactions since the beginning of the pandemic.
52% of those surveyed recognized an increase in the use of applications or web pages for transactions, while 49% indicated that they used mobile banking more.