(Bloomberg) -- The Covid-19 pandemic wiped out several years of social progress in Colombia, saddling the country with higher levels of financial distress and joblessness, according to the government.  

“We lost 8 years in our fight against unemployment, poverty and inequality,” Finance Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo said Thursday, at an event in Bogota. 

Colombia is expected to grow almost 10% this year, its fastest pace in decades, and gross domestic product has already recovered pre-pandemic levels. But the country must work to ensure that this year’s rapid growth doesn’t leave behind the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, Restrepo said.

Read More: Colombia Economy Beats Estimates With Recovery in Full Swing 

Male workers have recovered 96% of jobs lost during the pandemic, while for female workers the figure is just 81%, according to the national statistics agency. The national unemployment rate fell to 13% in September, from a peak of 21% in May last year, but more than a fifth of the youth workforce remains out of work.  

The poverty rate rose to 43% last year, the highest since at least 2012. Restrepo said the government wants to get this figure back down to the pre-pandemic level of 35% by 2022.

One area that has benefited from the recovery is public finances, with tax revenues 4% more than forecast this year, Restrepo said. 


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