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12-18 Roundup: Unemployment, Covid, abortion

Jobs report remains worrying, Uruguay closes border, abortion takes another step

By | [email protected] | December 18, 2020 12:36pm

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-Argentina’s job market report for the third quarter of the year was out yesterday, and although there was some improvement when compared to the second quarter (when the country was at the peak of the lockdown), figures continued to show many alarming aspects. Formally, the unemployment rate (those actively looking for a job but failing to find one) dropped from 13.1 to 11.7 percent, still above the roughly 10 percent figures seen before the pandemic.

But the problem is much larger than that. In the context of the pandemic, with many people discouraged from looking from work, looking at the employment rate makes much more sense than the unemployment rate, as it doesn’t exclude those who aren’t on the hunt for a position. In yesterday’s report, the employment rate stood at barely 37.4 percent, up from the alarming 33.4 percent seen three months ago, but still massively below the 43 percent seen before the pandemic. That means that from the roughly 2.5 million jobs that were destroyed since March (almost a quarter of the country’s total), only about one million were recovered by September.

-After much back and forth yesterday in the media, the state-controlled airline Aerolíneas Argentinas is now reporting that it will travel next week to Russia to bring the first Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines to the country. The conflict came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would not be vaccinated yet, because he is older than 60 and thus not yet among the groups for which the shot is recommended at the moment. With Argentina targeting the Russian vaccine especially to treat vulnerable groups such as the elderly (as well as essential workers), Putin’s declarations caused uproar and speculation that it would not be useful for many of Argentina’s goals. Russia, however, states that Phase 3 trials to measure the vaccine’s effects on the elderly are coming in the next few days, so Argentine specialists currently in Moscow have decided to go ahead with the purchase.

Cases, meanwhile, are growing in the country that had so far shown the best results in the continent: Uruguay. President Luis Lacalle Pou announced on Wednesday that it will close the country’s borders between December 21 and January 10, seeing how infections are exponentially climbing for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

-Back in Argentina, Senate committee hearings for the abortion legalization bill finished yesterday, with the “greens” securing a tight majority slightly above 50 percent in the Women, Justice and Health committees. The final hurdle for approval, however, will be the hardest: passing the Senate’s general vote on December 29, two and a half years after a similar bill was defeated in the same final step of the process.