Unemployment in Chile has reached a new record high of 13.1 percent, the national statistics institute said Friday.

Unemployment rose by 5.6 percentage points in the rolling May-July quarter compared to the same period in 2019.

The statistics institute said it was the highest figure since 2010 when the body changed its calculation method.

That means that more than a million people are out of work, leaving 8.1 million employed after the loss of 1.8 million jobs over the last year.

However, the unemployment figure doesn’t take into account the 760,000 people that took advantage of a government initiative launched in March to protect jobs affected by the coronavirus pandemic by allowing the temporary suspension of contracts and access to unemployment insurance.

The institute said that taking into consideration those unemployed, those on the government scheme, and those not looking for work but able to, then the number of people out of employment rises to 30 percent of the potential workforce.

“These are the most severe figures… that we’ve had in the history of our country,” said Labor Minister Maria Jose Zaldivar.

The institute said that of those still employed, a third have reported a drop in their income.

“The numbers speak for themselves and show why this has to be the priority,” said Finance Minister Ignacio Briones, while asking Congress to approve laws that would reactivate the economy by creating jobs.

Chile is one of the worst-affected countries in Latin America by the coronavirus, with 400,000 cases and close to 15,000 deaths.

The Central Bank expects the economy to shrink by 7.5 percent in 2020.

AFP

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