Monday 27 September 2021

Pandemic hits employment for women the hardest

Women held 52.5% of the jobs that were lost in August. Country suffers almost a decade of decline in women's position in the labor market.

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QCOSTARICA – The gaps that COVID-19 will leave on Costa Rican society will be profound. Its depth is already noticeable and suffers in social equity where one of the deepest furrows is marked in the field of female employment.

The pandemic hits employment for women the hardest. According to the State of the Nation report, of the total number of jobs that were lost until the second quarter of this year, 52.5% belonged to women.

The State of the Nation 2020 report determined that unemployment, which worsened due to the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic, since March, has been suffered more by women.

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Since the effects of the blow that the health emergency hit the economy began to be felt, in the second quarter of 2020, the population outside the labor market increased by more than 5 percentage points, that is, by 235,290 people.

And the number of employed persons was reduced by 437,938 people. Of the total of lost jobs, says the report, which paints a gray social and economic panorama, 52.5% were occupied by women. In absolute terms, 229,728 women lost their source of livelihood, while the number of men in that situation was 208,201 in the same period.

The social gap is clearer when it is observed that the number of employed women – 846,261 in 2019 – was considerably lower compared to employed men – 1,336,934–.

“(…) 27% of women lost their jobs versus 16% of men. The number of employed persons now stands at 616,533 women, a similar figure to that observed in 2011; that is to say, almost a decade of decline,” concluded the State of the Nation.

But the bad news for female employment does not end there. When looking at the female employment rate, it stands at 31%, a drop that means a 30-year setback, to the beginning of the 1990s when Costa Rica had the same rate.

That is not all. Informal employment, in which workers lack the minimum guarantees provided by labor legislation, approximately 48% of the people who work in this sector are women.

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The scene extends to women in this condition, as it deprives them and their families of social protection, health insurance, job guarantees and a minimum wage.

“This condition generates high-income instability and increases their social vulnerability to eventualities such as illness, maternity, work accidents, disability, old age and death (…)”, the report determined.

Pandemic attacks women workers

When looking at the second quarters since 2018, it is easy to see that the unemployment rate for women doubled between 2019 and 2020, from 15.0% last year to 30.4% during the same period of this year, while in 2018 it was 12.0%.

In the second quarter of 2020, the gap in the incidence of unemployment for men and women was 10 percentage points larger in women.

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And in the expanded unemployment rate – it also includes the population that gave up looking for a job, because they could not find it – women represented 33.6%.

“When combining the results of unemployment and underemployment, the data seem to suggest that, in the face of the pandemic, women faced a higher number of layoffs, while men had their working hours reduced in a greater proportion. One out of every two women is looking for a job or works fewer hours than they would like, in men this proportion corresponds to two out of every five,” the report determined.

One of the few data that can be considered positive in terms of employment for women during 2020 is that of the total employed population in teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 51.9 % are women and 48.1% are men. Most of them perform professional and technical jobs.

The poor employment situation of women, which worsened due to the impact of the pandemic, led to a greater number of women being obliged to request the “bono proteger” – state aid for those affected totally or partially in their jobs for COVID-19 – last August.

The State of the Nation determined that 516,492 of the total applicants for the bono were women, while 473,416 were men.

The 2020 State of the Nation Report, released Tuesday, November 17, 2020, consisting of 10 chapters, can be downloaded from the website  Read the report (in Spanish) here.

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