January 31, 2020 / 1:01 PM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Chile jobless rate rises amid protests, but impact still muted

(Updates with additional figures on unemployment, context)

SANTIAGO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Chile’s jobless rate rose to 7.0% during the October to December period, the government said on Friday, an early, but still tepid, sign of the potential impact of two months of unrest in late 2019.

The government said the number of unemployed people in Chile had risen 5% from the previous period in 2018. The market had widely expected a bigger jump in the jobless rate.

The most violent protests since the country’s return to democracy in 1990 plunged Santiago and much of the rest of Chile into chaos, shutting down businesses, slamming the tourism sector and destroying public transportation infrastructure. At least 31 people have died.

Officials had previously predicted hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost following the protests.

Thus far, the impact has been relatively muted, but growth is widely expected to lag through at least 2020.

The central bank in December slashed its 2020 growth forecast to a range of 0.5% to 1.5% from a previous 2.75% to 3.75%.

Unrest has subsided recently on announcements of a referendum on a new constitution in April and major social and economic reforms, though occasional violence persists.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by John Stonestreet and Steve Orlofsky

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