A study by the Ecolatina consultancy firm has found that approximately 220,000 officially registered jobs were lost in Argentina last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing economic crisis.
The figure represented a loss of 1.8 percent on overall formal employment posts from the previous year, said Ecolatina, which said welfare and support programmes introduced by the government to offset the impact of the pandemic had prevented a steeper decline.
The data underlines the ongoing impact of the economic crisis in Argentina, which has been in recession since 2018. Since December 2017, a total of 446,000 formally registered jobs have been lost, the report added.
"In 2020, [economic] activity fell 10 percent, its worst decline since 2002. As expected, this deterioration impacted on almost all parts of the economy: demand, wages and employment, among others, suffered the crisis of the last year," Ecolatina indicated in its report.
The decline, however, was not felt equally across all sectors of the economy, according to the report. Those engaged in the production and sale of “essential items” and “goods” were hit less severely than those who sell “non-essential items,” or “services,” said the economic advisory firm.
In the formal labour market meanwhile, 202,000 jobs in the private sector were lost, a drop of 3.4 percent from the previous year. An additional 40,000 self-employed or freelance jobs were lost in the same period, a fall of 1.4 percent.
Highlighting the counter-cyclical nature of public spending, by way of contrast there was a rise of 0.6 percent in public-sector posts across all levels of government (national, provincial, municipal), with just over 19,000 new jobs registered.
The report said that posts in the formal labour market would “regain the ceded ground as soon as demand allows.” However, Ecolatina warned this could happen slowly, due to “the closure of more than 20,000 companies over the past year” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The consultancy firm also underlined that employment figures would have been starker without the impact of coronavirus-related emergency support measures such as the IFE (Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia) and ATP (Asistencia al Trabajo y la Producción) payments, as well as decrees suspending lay-offs and impacting redundancy packages.
"On the one hand, the possibility of suspending workers in paralysed sectors contributed to conserving some jobs, while the difficulties in firing formal personnel, provoking double severance pay and the ban on layoffs, also helped to contain the bleeding,” wrote Ecolatina.
"In the same way, the ATP programme – in which that State paid part of the salary of some firms hit by restrictions on movement – contributed to looking after registered jobs,” read the report.