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COVID means labor market recovery still ‘slow and uncertain’ |

In his flagship WGlobal Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2022 (WESO trends), ILO downgraded its forecast for a labor market recovery in 2022, predicting a significant shortfall in the number of working hours compared to the pre-pandemic era.

“Two years into this crisis, the outlook remains fragile and the road to recovery slow and uncertain,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

A daunting prospect

Source: ILO/World Employment and Social Outlook.

Change in employment by formality and status compared to the same quarter in 2019 Q2 2020 and Q2 2021 (percentage).

The previous full-year estimate from last May had projected a shortfall equivalent to 26 million full-time jobs.

While this latest forecast is an improvement for 2021, it remains nearly two percent below pre-pandemic hours globally, the report notes.

Moreover, global unemployment is expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023.

The 2022 level for the unemployed is estimated at 207 million compared to 186 million in 2019.

“Many workers are forced to switch to new types of work – for example, in response to a prolonged decline in international travel and tourism,” the head of the ILO added.

“Potentially long-term damage”

WESO trends also warns that the overall impact on employment is much larger than presented in the raw figures, as many people have left the labor market.

Global labor force participation is projected to remain 1.2 percentage points lower in 2022 than in 2019.

The downgrade reflects the impact of COVID options such as Delta and Omicron, as well as continued uncertainty surrounding the future course of the pandemic.

“We are already seeing potentially long-term damage to labor markets, along with rising poverty and inequality,” Mr. Ryder said.

Completely different effects

The report warns of stark disparities in the impact of the crisis on worker groups and countries, exacerbating inequalities within and between countries, while weakening the economic, financial and social fabric of almost every nation, regardless of level of development.

The damage will likely take years to repair, with potential long-term impacts on the workforce, household incomes, and social and possibly political cohesion.

While the effects are being felt in labor markets around the world, the ILO notes a large divergence in recovery patterns that appears to be correlated with containment coronavirus.


Women work in an agricultural cooperative in Zambia.

© ILO/Marcel Crozet

Women work in an agricultural cooperative in Zambia.

Regional differences

The European and North American regions are seeing the most encouraging signs of recovery, while Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean are the most negative.

At the national level Labor market recovery is strongest in high-income countries, while lower-middle-income countries are faring worst..

According to the report, the disproportionate impact of the crisis on women’s employment is expected to continue in the coming years.

In the same time, WESO trends notes that the closure of educational and educational institutions “will have cascading long-term effects” on young people, especially those who do not have access to the Internet.

A real recovery from this pandemic is not possible without a large-scale recovery in the labor market.. And for this recovery to be sustainable, it must be based on the principles of decent work, including health and safety, equity, social protection and social dialogue,” said the head of the ILO.

Forecasts

The analysis includes comprehensive labor market forecasts for 2022 and 2023 and assesses how the labor market recovery has played out globally, reflecting different national approaches to post-pandemic recovery and analyzing the impact on different groups of workers and sectors of the economy.


Shortage of full-time equivalent of hours worked, employment and labor force in relation to 2019 (million).

As in previous crises, he also stressed that for some, temporary employment provided a buffer against the shocks caused by the pandemic.

And while many temporary jobs have been laid off or not recreated, alternatives have been created, including for workers who have lost their full-time jobs.

The ILO states that, on average, the frequency of temporary work has not changed.

The publication also offers a summary of key policy recommendations to create a fully inclusive, people-centred exit from the crisis, both nationally and internationally.


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