Covid-19 caused losses equalling 255 million jobs globally: ILO

26 Janvier, 2021, 17:57 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Representational image | Dhiraj Singh  Bloomberg

The world economy won't be able to fully fix last year's damage to employment in 2021 after the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the equivalent of 255 million jobs, according to the International Labour Organization.

This, it said, is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs - approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis.

The UN labour agency explained that around half of the lost working hours were calculated from reduced working hours for those remaining in employment.

The ILO said that 71% of these employment losses (81 million people) came in the form of inactivity, rather than unemployment, as people left the labour market because they were unable to work because of pandemic restrictions, or simply ceased to look for work.

"And so their talents, their skills, their energy have been lost, lost to their families, lost to our society, lost to us all". The fourth-quarter reduction in working hours of 4.6% - equivalent to 130 million full-time jobs - was also lower than a prior prediction.

The emergence of several safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19 has raised hopes that the world will soon be able to rein in the pandemic. The baseline scenario (which draws on International Monetary Fund forecasts from October 2020), projects a 3% loss of working hours globally in 2021 (compared to Q4 2019), equivalent to 90 million full time jobs. One path leads to an uneven, unsustainable, recovery with growing inequality and instability, and the prospect of more crises.

Globally, employment losses for women past year stood at five percent, compared with 3.9 percent for men.

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And women have been more affected than men.

There are "serious concerns" that this may translate into an uneven recovery, where "workers and businesses that have been hit hard by the crisis will benefit less from improving economic conditions", according to the report.

Many young people also put off trying to enter the labour market given the complicated conditions a year ago, the ILO found, warning that there was truly an "all too real risk of a lost generation".

The outlook highlights the contrast between hardest-hit sectors including hospitality, arts and retail that suffered "massive" damage, compared with highly-skilled services sectors that even saw jobs growth.

It stressed the need for more support to poorer countries with fewer resources to promote employment recovery.

The pessimistic scenario, which assumes slow progress on vaccination in particular, would see working hours drop by 4.6%, while the optimistic scenario forecasts a 1.3% decline.

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