December 18, 2019 / 10:28 PM / a month ago

Argentina third-quarter unemployment rate rises to 9.7%

FILE PHOTO: A man shows Argentine pesos outside a bank in Buenos Aires' financial district, Argentina August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s unemployment rate rose to 9.7% in the third quarter versus 9.0% in the same period last year, marking one of the highest rates recorded in recent years, the official INDEC statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The third quarter result was slightly improved from the second quarter rate of 10.6%.

On Tuesday, INDEC said that Argentina’s economy shrank 1.7% in the third quarter versus the same period the previous year after markets and the peso currency tumbled in response to the shock results of the Aug. 11 primary election in which then-candidate Alberto Fernandez soundly beat conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri.

President Alberto Fernandez, who went on to defeat Macri in the Oct. 27 presidential elections, has vowed to emphasize growth as he takes on hardships in Latin America’s #3 economy including higher unemployment, rising poverty and rampant inflation above 50%.

The new government announced in a decree over the weekend that Argentine workers fired without just cause over the next 180 days will be paid double the normal exit package, a change from the pro-business stance of the previous administration.

Young people were especially hard hit by unemployment, the government said, with young women suffering a jobless rate of 24%.

On Tuesday, the government sent a bill of economic measures to Congress that proposes raising taxes on agricultural exports and taxing foreign assets abroad as the government seeks funds to increase social spending.

Reporting by Jorge Iorio; writing by Cassandra Garrison; editing by Grant McCool

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