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A passerby walks past a closed restaurant with a sign that reads “everything will be fine” on July 2 in Bogota, Colombia. Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images

Up to 41 million people could lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean, the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned in a new report on Wednesday.

“The unemployment rate could rise between 4 and 5 percentage points, making the number of unemployed in the region a historic record of 41 million people. “If the crisis worsens, the employment situation could worsen, increasing social inequalities,” the report said.

Before the pandemic fell, the unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean was 8.1% – about 26 million people by the end of 2019, according to the ILO.

The report analyzes World Bank data, which estimate a 7.2% drop in economic growth in the region – leading to an unemployment rate of 12.3%.

The ILO also analyzed the latest figures from the International Monetary Fund, which estimated an economic decline of 9.4%, resulting in an unemployment rate of 13%.

What rates mean: “In absolute numbers, these rates mean an increase in the number of people looking for a job but not getting one; from 26 million before the pandemic to 41 million in 2020,” ILO experts explained at a news conference on Wednesday.

Where unemployment will hit hard: Various economic sectors are recording high unemployment rates. About 40% of workers are in the high-risk sectors of catering, food services, small businesses and manual labor.

Another 17% are in medium- and high-risk sectors, and only 20% of the workforce is engaged in low-risk economic activities such as those in government, education and health.

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“About 60% of employees in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to significant losses in employment, working time and income,” the report said.

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