COVID-19 and unemployment: How has it affected poverty rates in Colombia?

May 3, 2021

Data allows us to keep a record of how the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased unemployment and affected poverty rates in Colombia

It is evident that COVID-19 made poverty rates increase due to the economic crisis that broke out in March 2020, a year in which informal work was particularly affected and the closure of businesses such as restaurants, cinemas, museums and even big enterprises led to unemployment.  

How has unemployment in Colombia behaved since 2020 and how does it relate to poverty rates?

The following dashboard shows the impact caused by the pandemic in work activities by gender and how it has affected urban and rural areas.

According to the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE),  the unemployment rate in February 2021 was 15.9%, which meant an increase of 3.7% compared to the same month in the previous year (12.2%). 

As shown in the visualization, the poverty rate has mainly affected women and since March 2019 it continues to increase. 

Since November, 2019, when  the unemployment  rate for women was registered at 13.92%, numbers have increased  significantly: In May, 2020, they scaled up to 25.49%. During this same month in 2021, the unemployment rates in men were registered at 17.01%, a difference of 8,39% compared to women .

What is happening in the rural and urban areas of Colombia in terms of unemployment?

The following visualization shows poverty rates are higher in rural areas being women also the most affected. 

In January, 2019, the unemployment rate was 12.62% for women, compared to 4.55% for men. The month with the lowest unemployment rate for women was October, 2019, with 10.25% compared to 3.03% for men.  Since then the rate has grown significantly: In April, 2020, the unemployment rate for women was registered at 17.94%. 

In the urban areas the difference between men and women in respect to unemployment is not as large  as in rural areas;  However women continue to experience higher unemployment rates than men.

In 2020, the lowest unemployment rate for women was recorded in September at 12.79%, compared to 8.88%  for men. Since then, as well as in the urban areas, the numbers have increased, and the biggest unemployment rate for women was 26.87% registered in May, 2020. 

The pandemic has significantly impacted the labor sector, with women more affected compared to men.