Working Paper
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment

Findings from national labour surveys in five Latin American countries

This paper provides a comparative summary of recent national statistics from five Latin American countries on employment losses and gains during the peak COVID-19 years compared with pre-pandemic levels.

As part of its work on the impact of the pandemic on informal workers, the Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network commissioned analyses of recent national labour force data in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru; and undertook a separate analysis of South African data on employment losses and gains during COVID-19 (see WIDER WP 2022/40).

This paper also presents, in Section 2, micro-evidence from a WIEGO-led study of the impact of COVID-19 on informal workers. This information supplements the national statistics in Section 1, with information on the dynamics of employment losses and gains for workers in specific groups of urban informal workers. It is based on a panel study carried out by the WIEGO network in mid-2020 and mid-2021 on the impact of the pandemic on informal workers in 11 cities around the world, using both a survey questionnaire and in-depth interviews (see WIDER WP 2022/45).

The paper concludes with reflections on the use of mixed data sources and research methods and on policy responses to the informal economy going forward.