Panama's unemployment rose to 18.5%, the highest rate in 20 years
The effects of the ongoing pandemic triggered unemployment in Panama, which went from 7.1% to 18.5%, the highest rate in 20 years, while informality rose from 44.9% to 52.8%, the National Institute of Statistics (INEC) reported Tuesday.
A telephone labor market survey, carried out between last September and October showed that the number of people unrelated or with suspended contracts in Panama reached 371,567, some 225,456 more than the 146,111 that were in August 2019 and which translated at an unemployment rate of 7.1%.
The data collected in the survey "also revealed the existence of 777,162 non-agricultural informal jobs, that is, 52.8% of informal employment, compared to 44.9% in August 2019.
The effects of the health crisis widely impacted all sectors of the economy, INEC commented in a press release.
Panama, a country of 4.2 million inhabitants with an economy dependent on services, closed its non-essential productive and commercial sectors last March and after several months of a slow process reopened them almost fully in mid-October.
This closure translated into a cumulative drop of 20.4% in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first nine months of the year, according to INEC data, and in official projections of 25% unemployment and 55% informality at the end of 2020 .
The INEC specified this Tuesday that according to the survey carried out between September and last October, the Economically Active Population (EAP) in Panama stood at 2,003,258 people, with a decrease of 63,495 people compared to 2019 (2,066,753).
INEC attributed the variation to the impact of the health crisis on the labor market and a slight growth in the Non-Economically Active population as a result of the better conditions in the life expectancy of Panamanians.
The employed population is 1,631,691 people, while in 2019 it was 1,920,642 people, which in absolute figures shows a decrease of 288,951 wage earners who went into unemployment due to the health crisis, which also led to different working conditions such as they are: suspended contracts and termination of the employment relationship, added INEC.
The interviews of the labor survey were conducted by telephone in response to biosecurity measures due to the ongoing pandemic, with a sample of households obtained from the previous Labor Market Survey (2019), added the statistical entity attached to the General Comptroller's Office of Panama.