Global “Jobs Gap” Will Reach 75 Million in 2021

The jobs crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and employment growth will be insufficient to make up for the losses suffered until at least 2023, according to the  International Labour Organization (ILO).

In their latest analysis “World Economic and Social Outlook” the ILO reports that:

  • As the world’s labour market starts to recover, the new jobs that have become available are often low quality;
  • The jobs shortfall induced by the pandemic will reach 75 million jobs globally in 2021 and 23 million in 2022;
  • Global unemployment is expected to be 205 million in 2022 compared to 187 million in 2019.

In the next two years, employment creation will not be strong enough to provide sufficient employment opportunities for those who lost their job due to the pandemic, as well as for younger workers entering the jobs market for the first time.

The worst affected regions in the first half of 2021 have been Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia.  Global employment recovery is projected to accelerate in the second half of 2021, provided that there is no worsening in the overall pandemic situation.

The fall in employment and hours worked has translated into a sharp drop in labour income and a corresponding rise in poverty. Compared to 2019, an additional 108 million workers worldwide are now categorised as poor or extremely poor.

The COVID-19 crisis has also made pre-existing inequalities worse by hitting vulnerable workers harder, the report finds that:

  • The widespread lack of social protection – for example among the world’s two billion informal sector workers – has been catastrophic;
  • Women have been disproportionately impacted, their employment decreased by 5% in 2020 compared to 3.9% for men, and lockdowns have created additional domestic responsibilities;
  • Globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults.

According to the ILO there can be no real recovery without a recovery of decent jobs.  This means generating productive employment opportunities with long term prospects for the most vulnerable.  It is also clear that improved social protection is needed so that no-one is left behind, and international cooperation to avoid global disparities.

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