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Pandemic leaves 22m unemployed in advanced economies, OECD finds

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About 22 million fewer people work in advanced economies than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to OECD research which predicts that labor markets will not recover until the end of next year.

Rich countries could face sustained growth in long-term unemployment, warned the report released by the OECD in Paris on Wednesday. This is because low-skilled workers who were more likely to lose their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic are poorly equipped to move into sectors where employment is stronger.

Meanwhile, companies are likely to report employees who are still supported by short-term work schemes before creating new full-time jobs, risking the emergence of a gap between those who have continued to work and those who have lost jobs and income, the OECD said in its annual employment outlook.

Of the 22m people who lose their jobs in the OECD, 8m are unemployed and 14m are classified as inactive.

“A wider gap can develop between those who survived the crisis through reduced hours and short periods of temporary leave, and those who found themselves without work – increasingly away from the workforce, exhausting their rights. of benefits and risking long-term scarring, ”the OECD said.

By the end of 2020, the number of people who had been unemployed for more than six months was 60 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels in all OECD member nations.

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“At the beginning of the crisis, low-skilled workers were more likely to lose their jobs. Highly skilled workers were more likely to reduce their working hours, ”said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs.

The OECD said there is evidence that many of the workers hardest hit by the pandemic were already in danger of being replaced by automation before the crisis, and could now disappear as digital technologies are adopted. accelerates. It indicated large falls in jobs for secretaries in Australia, data entry employees in Canada, and travel agents, word processors and typists in the United States.

The report noted a growing demand for healthcare and green energy professionals in many rich economies.

Scarpetta said this was proof that governments should make employment retention schemes more targeted to ensure they do not support companies that are unlikely to survive in the open market. Governments will also provide incentives for companies to create jobs, and guide workers toward sectors that are expanding through employment subsidies, mobility bonuses and concerted efforts to help adults retrain, he said.


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