GENEVA: The United Nations said, on Monday, that the coronavirus epidemic caused a massive loss of global jobs last year, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion.
In a new study, the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) found that a full 8.8% of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
This is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, or “nearly four times the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis,” the International Labor Organization said in a statement.
“This was the most severe crisis in the world of work since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” ILO chief Jay Ryder told reporters in a hypothetical statement.
Since the virus appeared in China just over a year ago, the virus has killed more than 2.1 million people, infected tens of millions of people and devastated the global economy.
About half of the lost working hours accounted for the reduced working hours of those who remained at work, the UN Labor Agency explained.
She added that the world also witnessed “unprecedented levels of job losses” last year.
Official global unemployment increased by 1.1%, or 33 million people, to a total of 220 million, and the global unemployment rate was 6.5% last year.
Missing talents and skills
Ryder asserted that another 81 million people did not register as unemployed but “simply walked out of the job market.”
“They are either unable to work, perhaps because of epidemiological restrictions or social obligations, or they have given up looking for work,” he said.
“So they lost their talents, their skills, and their energy, they lost their families, they lost their community, they lost us all.”
The International Labor Organization said lost working hours last year cut global labor income by a full 8.3%.
It added that this represented a decrease of about $ 3.7 trillion, or 4.4 percent of global GDP.
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.
But the International Labor Organization warned that the prospects for the global labor market recovery this year are “slow, erratic and uncertain”.
The organization noted the disproportionate impact of the crisis on workers worldwide, affecting women and younger workers far more than others.
Globally, job losses for women last year were five percent, compared to 3.9 percent for men.
Women are more likely to work in the sectors of the economy most affected, and they also bear more of the burden, for example, caring for children who are forced to stay home from school.
A lost generation
Younger workers were also more likely to lose their jobs, with 15 to 24 job losses globally 8.7%, compared to 3.7% for older workers.
The International Labor Organization also found that many young people have put off trying to enter the labor market due to the complicated circumstances in the past year, warning that there is a “very real risk of a lost generation.”
Monday’s report also highlighted the disproportionate effect on different sectors, with accommodation and catering services affected the most, as it showed a drop in employment of more than 20%.
In contrast, employment swelled in the areas of information and communications, as well as in finance and insurance.
Looking ahead, the International Labor Organization called on countries to provide special support to the groups and sectors most affected, as well as to sectors that are likely to be able to create many jobs quickly.
She stressed the need for more support to poorer countries with fewer resources to boost employment recovery.
The report outlines three recovery scenarios for 2021, depending on the support measures introduced at the national and international levels.
The pessimistic scenario saw an additional 4.6% decrease in working hours, and even the most optimistic scenario predicted that working hours would shrink by another 1.3% this year, equivalent to 36 million full-time jobs.