Job losses: Uncertain labour market recovery worries ILO

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The International Labour Organisation has noted that COVID-19 has had more devastating effect on businesses globally than previously estimated.

This was contained in the analysis of the labour market it released on its website on Tuesday.

It stated that the second half of the year even looked gloomy as the economy might not experience much recovery while retention of jobs in many sectors looked slimmer.

In the first half of the year, the ILO analysis indicated that the number of working hours lost across the world due to the outbreak of the coronavirus was more significant than earlier envisaged as number of cases spiked both locally and globally.

The analysis indicated, “The number of working hours lost across the world in the first half of 2020 was significantly worse than previously estimated.

“Again, the highly uncertain recovery in the second half of the year will not be enough to go back to pre-pandemic levels, even in the best scenario, and risks seeing continuing large scale job losses.”

According to the ILO monitor, it stated in ‘COVID-19 and the world of work fifth edition’ that there was a 14 per cent drop in global working hours during the second quarter of the year.

It added that this loss was equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs globally(based on a 48-hour working week).

“This is a sharp increase on the previous monitor’s estimate (issued on May 27), of a 10.7 per cent drop (305 million jobs), “it stated further.

The new figures, the analysis noted, reflected the worsening situation in many regions over the past weeks, especially in developing economies.

“Regionally, working time losses for the second quarter were: Americas (18.3 per cent), Europe and Central Asia (13.9 per cent), Asia and the Pacific (13.5 per cent), Arab States (13.2 per cent), and Africa (12.1 per cent).”

The vast majority of the world’s workers (93 per cent) concerned live in countries with some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions.

On the second half of the year, the analysis said three factors -baseline, pessimistic and optimistic – would come to play, in determining the way forward.

It, however, stressesld that the long-term outcome would depend on the future trajectory of the pandemic and governments’ policy choices.

The baseline model, it argued “assumes a rebound in economic activity in line with existing forecasts, the lifting of workplace restrictions and a recovery in consumption and investment.

 

“The pessimistic scenario assumes a second pandemic wave and the return of restrictions that would significantly slow recovery,”it added.

It said the optimistic scenario assumed that workers’ activities resume “quickly, significantly boosting aggregate demand and job creation.”

Among the key challenges ahead that could confront governments in effectively tackling the coronavirus pandemic would be finding the right balance and sequencing of health, economic and social and policy interventions to produce optimal sustainable labour market outcomes.

Also there would be the challenge of implementing and sustaining policy interventions at the necessary scale when resources were likely to be increasingly constrained.

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