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UN: Pandemic has cost 34 million jobs in Latin America

Shoppers, wearing protective face masks, form a line outside Dollarcity in San Salvador, El Salvador, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. For months, the strictest measures confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America seemed to keep infections in check in El Salvador, but a gradual reopening combined with a political stalemate has seen infections increase nearly fourfold. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
Shoppers, wearing protective face masks, form a line outside Dollarcity in San Salvador, El Salvador, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. For months, the strictest measures confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America seemed to keep infections in check in El Salvador, but a gradual reopening combined with a political stalemate has seen infections increase nearly fourfold. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MEXICO CITY – The U.N.’s International Labour Organization said Wednesday that at least 34 million jobs have been lost in Latin America due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ILO urged countries in the region to adopt “immediate strategies” to deal with the problem.

The count was up from the ILO’s previous estimates in early August that 14 million jobs had been lost in the region.

The organization's Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vinícius Pinheiro, called it “an unprecedented challenge.”

Pinheiro said the third quarter had brought a recovery in economic activity and, according to preliminary data, a tentative recovery in employment.

He said the region faced structural problems like low productivity, income inequality and a large percentage of people working off the books.

The ILO figures were based on data from nine countries which account for 80% of the region's workforce.

The ILO lists Latin America and the Caribbean as the worst-hit region in the world in terms of lost working hours, with a drop of 20.9% in the first three quarters of the year, compared to an average of 11.7% worldwide.