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IDB says pandemic cost millions of jobs in region; will they come back?

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Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2021. 2:01 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says in its new report that 12 countries alone lost an estimated 26 million jobs between February and October 2020, reduced to 15 million by February 2021.

The shock caused by COVID-19 is expected to lift extreme poverty, by the IDB’s projection, from 12.1 percent to 14.6 percent while moderate poverty is projected to rise from 11.7 percent to 14.6 percent.

Only a strong recovery will allow these rates to decline significantly.

The region has an opportunity to take advantage of regional and global value chains as companies look for stronger and more diverse supply chains. A bottom-up regional integration approach can streamline trade agreements and provide a boost to regional value chains, the Bank says.

The region faces a growing environmental crisis as well as the on-going health crisis. Adopting ambitious climate goals does not entail any sacrifice in terms of jobs or growth. Countries should invest in a more environmentally sustainable future aimed at zero net carbon emissions over a reasonable period of time. The right policies can create 15 million jobs by 2030 in the region, and boost growth by more than 1 percentage point per year, it continues.

“While economic recovery from COVID-19 may be already underway, previous crises demonstrate that the pace of recovery may be uneven and biased against high productivity sectors,” said IDB Principal Economist and co-coordinator of the report, Eduardo Cavallo. “Enhancing productivity through innovation and reallocation and investing efficiently in quality infrastructure with high spillovers on other economic sectors will help the region seize the opportunities for stronger post-pandemic sustainable growth.”

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