Geneva | The COVID-19 pandemic has caused “massive damage” to jobs, with the equivalent of 255 million jobs lost in 2020, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO) on Monday.
• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic
Over the whole of 2020, “8.8% of working hours in the world were lost (compared to the fourth quarter of 2019), which is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs”, or four times more working hours that went up in smoke only during the financial crisis of 2009, underlines the specialized agency of the United Nations, in its seventh report devoted to the impact of the pandemic on the world of work.
These massive losses led to an 8.3% drop in labor income around the world – if we do not take into account the aid plans that have flourished everywhere -, namely $ 3.7 trillion or even 4 , 4% percent of the world’s gross domestic product, says the ILO.
To add a little more to the gloominess of the picture, the ILO stresses that the unemployment figures are misleading: “71% of these job losses (81 million people) are due to inactivity rather than unemployment, this which means that these people left the labor market because they were not able to work, perhaps due to the restrictive measures linked to the pandemic or, quite simply, because they stopped looking work “.
An “uneven and unequal” recovery
Since the Covid-19 virus was detected in China at the end of 2019, the pandemic has thrown the world into a serious economic crisis in addition to killing more than 2.1 million and infecting a hundred million of people. And these official figures are undoubtedly far below reality.
“The latest forecast for 2021 indicates that most countries are expected to experience relatively strong growth in the second half of the year, as immunization programs become operational,” the report said.
The ILO Observatory has planned three scenarios. The benchmark expects a 3% drop in working hours in 2021, if the pandemic is under control and if business and consumer confidence returns.
The most affected will be the Americas, Europe and Central Asia.
” We are at the crossroads. One of them leads to an uneven, unsustainable economic recovery, a recovery tinged with growing inequalities and growing instability, thus paving the way for new crises, ”warns Guy Ryder, CEO of the ILO, indicating that another path is possible which passes “through a human-centered recovery in order to better rebuild by giving priority to employment, income and social protection, labor law and to social dialogue ”.
Risk of “lost generation”
While waiting to see what measures will be implemented to help recovery, the ILO notes that women have been more affected than men. “In particular, women were much more likely than men to have to leave the labor market and find themselves inactive,” notes the organization.
Young workers have also been particularly affected, either by losing their job, or by leaving the workforce or by delaying their entry into the labor market, notes the report, which speaks of the risk of “a lost generation”.
Job losses among young people (aged 15 to 24) were 8.7%, compared to 3.7% over 24 years.
Unsurprisingly, the sector most affected by the pandemic is accommodation and food services, which has lost a fifth of its jobs. On the other hand, the ILO underlines an increase in hiring in the second quarter and third quarter of 2020 in information and communication as well as in financial and insurance activities.