The coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on global jobs last year, the United Nations said on Monday, with the equivalent of more than a quarter of a billion lost.
In a fresh study, the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that a full 8.8% of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
That is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, or “approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis,” the ILO said in a statement. “This has been the most severe crisis for the world of work since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters in a virtual briefing.
The UN labour agency explained that around half of the lost working hours were calculated from reduced working hours for those remaining in employment. But the world also saw “unprecedented levels of employment loss” last year, it said.
Official global unemployment shot up by 1.1%, or 33 million more people, to a total of 220 million and a worldwide jobless rate of 6.5% last year.
Ryder stressed that another 81 million people did not register as unemployed but “simply dropped out of the labour market”.
“Either they are unable to work perhaps because of pandemic restrictions or social obligations or they have given up looking for work,” he said. The lost working hours last year shrank global labour income by a full 8.3%, the ILO said. That amounts to a drop of some $3.7 trillion, or 4.4% of overall global gross domestic product (GDP), it added.
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.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2021.
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