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Social distancing is difficult to attain in usually crowded Latin American and Caribbean public transit systems. Passengers on the Caracas Metro on May 26. Photo: Michael Mata / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The huge informal economy and dependence on tourism in Latin America has made controlling the spread of the coronavirus harder.

Why it matters: Around half the workers in Latin America and the Caribbean depend on the income they make from unregulated, precarious and untaxed jobs and businesses, without the cushion of contracts or social security benefits.

  • Those millions of street vendors, domestic workers, garment factory employees and others cannot work from home or afford to stay home if they're sick.
  • Many in the region live in multigenerational homes with little sanitation, and travel on usually crowded public transportation that doesn't allow for social distancing.
  • All this increases SARS-CoV-2 exposure and reduces the effectiveness of lockdowns.

The big picture: Extreme poverty in the region grew during 2020 to 33%, its highest point in two decades, and women’s participation in the job market plummeted.

  • The global drop in travel threw many people out of work and hundreds of millions of dollars in public revenue were lost, hitting tourism-dependent and poor Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba especially hard.
  • Experts fear Latin America and the Caribbean could take longer than other regions to bounce back from the pandemic’s economic effects, with the possibility of a “lost decade” of little to no growth.

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Oct 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

More women and older workers gave up on looking for jobs last month

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The silver lining in Friday’s mediocre jobs report was this milestone: The unemployment rate dropped below 5% for the first time since the pandemic sent workers home in droves.

Yes, but: Part of what pushed it down was shrinking labor force participation.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 3 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.