Unemployment reached 10.2 percent in the first quarter of this year (slightly down from 10.4 percent in the same period last year), the INDEC statistics bureau reported on Thursday, thus leaving 1.3 million jobless.
Unemployment is much higher among women at 12.3 percent than males (8.5 percent) with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown having an especially heavy impact on domestic service.
INDEC’s job market figures showed underemployment to stand at 11.9 percent, sharply down from the 15.1 percent of the previous quarter but the same difference with the first quarter of 2020 when it was 11.7 percent.
The first quarter of this year found 46.3 percent of the population economically active and 41.6 percent employed. The impact of the pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs and seek the IFE emergency family benefit.
INDEC attributed the improved figures to the 2.5 percent economic growth in the first quarter.
Unemployment was higher in bigger communities, the INDEC data showed, averaging 10.8 percent in cities with over half a million inhabitants while falling to 6.8 percent below that level of population. The Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) was the highest of all at 11 percent while north-eastern provinces were the lowest at 6.1 percent with public employment filling many gaps.
Over half of those seeking work (56.5 percent) were reported as having been job-hunting for half a year or more without success while almost a third (30.9 percent) were still in their first three months.
The joblessness data was the second good piece of economic news this week for the government after positive growth data.
Argentina’s economy grew at the fastest pace since 2018 at the start of this year as higher agricultural prices boosted exports, while investment and consumer spending continued to recover from last year’s crash.
Gross domestic product grew 2.6 percent from the previous quarter, higher than economists expectations for a 2.3 percent increase. From a year ago, Argentina’s economy grew 2.5 percent in the first quarter, its fastest pace in three years, according to INDEC.
Exports surged 19.2 percent on a quarterly basis, aided by rising prices for soy products and other commodities. Capital spending jumped 6.1 percent.
Argentina’s economy will grow this year for the first time since 2017, according to the Central Bank’s monthly survey, as business activity picks up after the downturn caused by the pandemic.
However, analysts forecast a contraction in the second quarter, according to the bank’s monthly survey. A strict lockdown in part of May and a farmer’s strike in protest of a temporary ban on beef exports likely weighed down activity during that period.