July 3, 2020: The number of working hours lost across the world in the first half of 2020 was significantly worse than previously estimated, while 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, warns the International Labour Organization (ILO).
According to the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work: 5th Edition, there was a 14 per cent drop in global working hours during the second quarter of 2020, equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs (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).
The new figures reflect 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) continue to live in countries with some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions.
Key challenges ahead
While countries have adopted policy measures with unprecedented speed and scope, the Monitor highlights some key challenges ahead:
Finding the right balance and sequencing of health, economic and social and policy interventions to produce optimal sustainable labour market outcomes.
Implementing and sustaining policy interventions at the necessary scale when resources are likely to be increasingly constrained.
Protecting and promoting the conditions of vulnerable, disadvantaged and hard-hit groups to make labour markets fairer and more equitable.
Securing international solidarity and support, especially for emerging and developing countries.
Strengthening social dialogue and respect for rights.
“The decisions we adopt now will echo in the years to come and beyond 2030. Although countries are at different stages of the pandemic and a lot has been done, we need to redouble our efforts if we want to come out of this crisis in a better shape than when it started,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.