A new assessment of the global labor market suggests that the recovery from the job crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be fragile and worsen inequalities between rich and poor countries. The projection comes in a new report from the International Labor Organization of the United Nations.
ILO economists say labor markets are recovering more slowly than ever before the pandemic-induced crisis. They estimate the number of global working hours this year to be 1.8% less than the number of pre-pandemic hours worked in the last quarter of 2019.
He says the loss is equivalent to the loss of 52 million full-time jobs, more than double the number estimated in last year’s global market survey. Guy Ryder, the director general of the ILO, says this reduction in the labor supply comes on top of consistently high pre-crisis levels of unemployment.
“In 2022, we forecast global unemployment to be 207 million and this is 20 million more than pre-pandemic levels in 2019,” Ryder said.
The report found a large difference in recovery between regions. It added that the European and North American regions are showing encouraging signs of recovery. The worst affected regions are Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ryder says that richer countries are expected to emerge from this crisis better than poor countries. He says there exists a wide gap between the potential of the labor market based on the income and level of development of countries.
“Many low- and middle-income economies are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels of employment and job quality. Inadequate access to vaccines is putting pressure on their health care systems with tight fiscal space, limiting the ability of their governments to use stimulus measures to support their labor markets,” he said.
Ryder says the International Labor Organization has taken no policy position on the legality or otherwise of the vaccination mandate in the workplace. He says a fundamental problem facing workplaces is unequal access to vaccines.
For them, he says, the bottom line is to make sure people are able to work in a healthy, safe environment.