File photo. People with facial masks line up outside a bank during the government-ordered quarantine to reduce COVID-19 infection rates, in Bogotá, Colombia, July 27, 2020. . / Luisa González

BOGOTÁ, Jul 30 (.) – Colombia’s urban unemployment rate soared to 24.9% in June, from 10.7% in the same month last year, amid mandatory preventive isolation from the pandemic of coronavirus that semi-paralyzed the fourth economy in Latin America, government figures revealed on Thursday.

The June figure also exceeded the 24.5% reached by urban unemployment last May.

The country’s total unemployed population increased 92.3% to 4.53 million in June compared to the same month in 2019, the National Statistics Department (DANE) said.

Of the total number of unemployed counted nationwide in June, 2.79 million were concentrated in the urban area, equivalent to an increase of 114% compared to the same month last year.

About two thirds of formal jobs are concentrated in the country’s urban area of ​​50 million inhabitants.

In a broader measurement but less referenced by analysts, national unemployment, which includes the rural area, rebounded to 19.8% in June, more than double the 9.4% in the same month of the previous year, but by below 21.4% last May.

The biggest falls in the urban labor market were concentrated in the artistic and entertainment activities, of commerce and repair of vehicles and in the manufacturing industry, said the director of DANE, Juan Daniel Oviedo, in a conference.

The labor figures incorporated the impact of a mandatory isolation that began on March 25 and will last until the end of August, a period in which important sectors of the economy have operated in mid-march and others have remained completely closed.

The number of people with employment in the South American country fell by 18.8% or 4.27 million to a total of 18.3 million in the sixth month.

The Ministry of Finance estimates that the Colombian economy will contract 5.5% this year.

President Iván Duque supports from the Government a gradual opening of the economy with high levels of security to prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19, which so far leaves more than 276,000 infected and 9,454 dead.

(Report by Luis Jaime Acosta)