The coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on global jobs last year, the United Nations said on Monday, representing a loss of more than a quarter of a billion.
In a new study, the International Labor Organization of the United Nations (ILO) found that in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, a full 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost.
That equates to 255 million full-time jobs, or “roughly four times the number lost during the global financial crisis in 2009,” according to an ILO statement.
“This was the worst crisis for the world of work since the Great Depression in the 1930s,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters in a virtual briefing.
Since emerged in China a little over a year ago, the virus has killed more than 2.1 million people, infected tens of millions of others, and hit the global economy.
The UN Labor Agency stated that around half of the hours lost were calculated from the reduction in working hours of the remaining employees.
But the world has also seen “unprecedented job losses” over the past year, it said.
Official global unemployment rose last year by 1.1 percent or 33 million more people to a total of 220 million and a global unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.
Lost talents, skills
Ryder stressed that another 81 million people did not register as unemployed but “simply dropped out of the job market”.
“Either they are unable to work due to pandemic restrictions or social obligations, or they have given up looking for work,” he said.
“And so their talents, their abilities, their energy have been lost, lost for their families, lost for our society, lost for all of us.”
Hours lost in the last year have shrunk global labor income by a full 8.3 percent, the ILO said.
This corresponds to a decrease of around 3.7 trillion US dollars or 4.4 percent of the total global gross domestic product (GDP).
The advent of several safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19 has raised hopes that the world can soon contain the pandemic.
However, the ILO warned that the prospects for a global labor market recovery this year were “slow, uneven and uncertain”.
The organization pointed to the unequal impact of the crisis on workers around the world, which affected women and younger workers far more than others.
Worldwide, the loss of employment for women last year was five percent compared to 3.9 percent for men.
Women are more likely to work in the hardest-hit sectors of the economy and have also taken on the burden of looking after children who are forced to stay home from school, for example.
Younger workers are far more likely to lose jobs. The job loss among 15- to 24-year-olds was 8.7 percent worldwide and 3.7 percent among older workers.
Many young people have also postponed attempts to enter the labor market in the face of complicated conditions over the past year, the ILO noted, warning that there really is an “all too real risk of a lost generation”.
Monday’s report also highlighted the uneven impact across sectors, with accommodation and catering services being hit hardest, with employment falling more than 20 percent.
In contrast, employment in information and communication, as well as finance and insurance, swelled.
Looking ahead, the ILO urged countries to give particular support to the most affected groups and sectors, as well as those sectors likely to create large jobs quickly.
She stressed the need for greater support for poorer countries with fewer resources to promote employment recovery.
The report outlined three recovery scenarios for 2021, depending on the support measures provided at national and international level.
The pessimistic scenario resulted in an additional 4.6 percent decrease in working hours, and even the most optimistic scenario assumed that working hours would decrease this year by an additional 1.3 percent, equivalent to 36 million full-time equivalents.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)