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ARGENTINA | 29-09-2022 02:00

Argentine poverty remains above pre-pandemic level in early 2022

Argentina's poverty rate remained above pre-pandemic levels in the first half of this year as high inflation eroded benefits of country's economic recovery.

Argentina's poverty rate remained above its pre-pandemic level in the first half of this year as high inflation eroded the benefits of the country's economic recovery.

At the beginning of this year, about 36.5 percent of Argentines were living in poverty, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses reported Wednesday. The figure is up from a reading of 35.5 percent just before the pandemic and well above the previous low of 25.7 percent seen in 2017.

While poverty has declined since 2020, its progress lags behind the overall economic recovery, including an unemployment rate at its lowest level since at least 2016. Moreover, the number of Argentines with formal payroll jobs is currently higher than ever.

However, the future outlook for poverty in Argentina looks worse. The defining poverty line is the number of people who can afford a basic basket of essential goods, a unit that the government publishes every month.

High inflation, which is close to touching 100 percent in the coming months, is eroding wages, diluting employment gains, which are mainly concentrated in low-paying sectors such as tourism and retail trade.

In August, consumer prices reported a year-on-year increase of 78.5 percent, almost certainly a faster pace than many wages. In the most recent month of data, wages in June for Argentina's mostly low-wage informal workers rose by only 58 percent.

by Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg

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