Unemployment in Argentina rose a 16-year high to 13.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the INDEC national statistics bureau revealed Wednesday, pushed higher by economic turmoil and the coronavirus pandemic.
INDEC's data was the worst officially recorded unemployment rate since 2004. In the first quarter of the year, joblessness stood at 10.4 percent, meaning the rate jumped 2.7 points. In the second quarter of the previous year, 2019, unemployment stood at 10.6 percent.
"These results largely reflect the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the dynamics of the labour market and the restrictions on certain activities and circulation [of movement] established by the [March 20] decree that established preventive and mandatory social isolation (ASPO)," INDEC said in a report.
The new data arrived one day after the bureau revealed that economic activity contracted by 19.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.
Argentina entered a nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus on March 20 and though restrictions have since been relaxed in many provinces, quarantine measures remain in force until at least October 11.
INDEC surveyed 31 urban agglomerates in which 28.6 million people reside. The city with the highest unemployment rate is the seaside resort of Mar del Plata (26 percent), located 400 kilometres south of Buenos Aires on the coast. In the southern city of Ushuaia, joblessness was 22 percent.
Including only the regions consulted, at least 1.44 million people cannot find work out of an active registered population of 11 million people, INDEC said. Projecting the figures out to Argentina's full population of 44 million, an estimated 2.2 million people are currently out of work.
Breaking down its findings by sex and age, INDEC's report reveals that unemployment increased across all groups, though it was higher among women aged 14 to 29, rising from 23.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 28.5 percent in the second quarter.
Job losses were felt heavily in manufacturing, construction, commerce and domestic services, the bureau found.
Argentina has been in a recession since 2018. Projections from the International Monetary Fund estimate that GDP will fall 9.9 percent this year, though private economists put the figure higher than 12 percent.