Covid-19 working-hour losses equate to 495M full-time jobs: study

Geneva, Sep 23 (efe-epa).- The number of working hours lost in the second quarter of 2020 was equivalent to 495 million full-time jobs and global income declined by $3.5 trillion between January and September, according to a report from the International Labour Organization on Wednesday.

The second quarterly findings, which were compared to the final quarter of 2019, showed a 17.3 percent decrease in working hours.

The revised estimates are gloomier than previously predicted by the Geneva-based ILO Monitor, which has conducted six reports on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the international labour.

In its June report, the ILO had predicted a 14 percent slump — equivalent to 400 million full-time jobs — for Q2.

The ILO predicted losses equivalent to 345 million in Q3 and said the outlook for Q4 had “significantly worsened” and now stood at an estimated 245 million jobs, rather than the 140 million previously forecast.

One of the driving factors behind the worsening outlook is the long-lasting and disproportionate damage the pandemic has inflicted workers in emerging and developing economies, particularly in the informal sector.

Latin America has been the worst-affected global region in relative terms. In Q2, the number of working hours fell 33.5 percent — equivalent to 80 million jobs — and the trend is predicted to stay high into Q3 with a forecast drop of 25.6 percent, or 60 million jobs, according to the ILO.

In absolute terms the most substantial decrease in hours worked was observed in south Asia, where the fall was comparable to 170 million jobs in Q3 although figures are predicted to settle slightly at 115 million.

Although the organization did not detail a country-by-country break down, countries like the United States and Brazil witnessed a 10 percent decrease in the number of hours worked while in many Latin American countries like Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica, those figures were more acute at around 20 percent.

Peru, which has a burgeoning informal sector and is one of the countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, had the worst figures with a 50 percent drop in working-hour losses between April and June.

The combined total loss of working hours translates to a $3.5 trillion loss in the international labour market.

The largest income drop was registered in middle-income countries, totalling a decrease of 15.1 percent. The Americas were the worst affected region overall with a slump of 12.1 percent in the first three quarters of the year, a period in which measures to contain Covid-19 restricted economic activity around the world.

Although the tough restrictions seen at the beginning of the pandemic have been gradually eased, the ILO said that around 94 percent of workers reside in countries where some sort of limitations remain in place.

The report added that one in three workers around the world live in countries where most workplaces, apart from essential jobs like healthcare, remain closed or partially closed.

The report also examined the effect of emergency financial stimulus in response to the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.

It said that an average increase of fiscal stimulus of one percent of annual GDP would have reduced working-hour losses by 0.8 percent whereas a lack of stimulus at all would have seen global working-hour losses rise by 28 percent.

Such emergency measures are almost exclusively available to developed countries, the ILO pointed out, rather than the developing nations that have been hardest hit in terms of labor losses.

The report said developing countries would need to match an average fiscal stimulus of $982 billion in order to mirror the average level of stimulus relative to working-hour losses in richer nations.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said: “Just as we need to redouble our efforts to beat the virus, so we need to act urgently and at scale to overcome its economic, social and employment impacts. That includes sustaining support for jobs, businesses and incomes.”

“As the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York, there is a pressing need for the international community to set out a global strategy for recovery through dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. No group, country or region can beat this crisis alone,” he added.EFE-EPA

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