Pandemic impact on jobs, worse than expected: ILO

The jobs recovery is stalled worldwide and disparities between advanced and developing economies threaten the whole global economy, warned the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday.

The agency is projecting that global hours worked this year will be 4.3 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, the equivalent of 125 million full time jobs. This is a dramatic revision of the projection made in June, of 3.5 per cent or 100 million full-time jobs.

The eighth edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work also warns of a “great divergence” between developed and developing countries, saying it will persist without concrete financial and technical support.

In the third quarter of 2021, total hours worked in high-income countries were 3.6 per cent lower than the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

By contrast, the gap in low-income countries stood at 5.7 per cent and in lower middle-income countries at 7.3 per cent.

From a regional perspective, Europe and Central Asia experienced the smallest loss in hours, around 2.5 per cent. This was followed by Asia and the Pacific at 4.6 per cent.

Africa, the Americas and Arab States showed declines of 5.6, 5.4 and 6.5 per cent respectively.

This great divergence is largely driven by major differences in the roll-out of vaccinations and fiscal stimulus packages.

Estimates indicate that for each 14 persons fully vaccinated in the second quarter of 2021, one full-time equivalent job was added to the global labour market. This substantially boosted the recovery.

In the absence of any vaccines, globally, the loss in hours worked would have stood at six per cent in the second quarter of 2021, rather than the 4.8 per cent recorded.

The highly uneven vaccine roll out, means that the effect was largest in high-income countries, negligible in lower middle-income countries and almost zero in low-income countries.

According to ILO, these imbalances could be rapidly addressed through greater global solidarity in respect of vaccines.

The agency estimates that if low-income countries had more equitable access to vaccines, working-hour recovery would catch up with richer economies in just over one quarter.