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Pandemic plunges 100 million more workers into poverty: UN

  • Covid-19 "has not just been a public health crisis, it's also been an employment and human crisis," ILO chief said.
Updated 02 Jun 2021

GENEVA: The pandemic has pushed over 100 million more workers into poverty, the UN said Wednesday, after working hours plummeted and access to good quality jobs evaporated.

In a report, the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) cautioned that the labour market crisis created by the pandemic was far from over, with employment not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.

The ILO's annual World Employment and Social Outlook report indicated that the planet would be 75 million jobs short at the end of this year compared to if the pandemic had not occurred.

And it would still count 23 million fewer jobs by the end of next year.

Covid-19 "has not just been a public health crisis, it's also been an employment and human crisis," ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters.

"Without a deliberate effort to accelerate the creation of decent jobs, and support the most vulnerable members of society and the recovery of the hardest-hit economic sectors, the lingering effects of the pandemic could be with us for years in the form of lost human and economic potential, and higher poverty and inequality."

The report showed that global unemployment was expected to stand at 205 million people in 2022 -- far higher than the 187 million in 2019.

But the situation is worse than official unemployment figures indicate.

Many people have held onto their jobs but have seen their working hours cut dramatically.

In 2020, 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 -- the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs.

While the situation has improved, global working hours have far from bounced back, and the world will still be short the equivalent of 100 million full-time jobs by the end of this year, the report found.

"This shortfall in employment and working hours comes on top of persistently high pre-crisis levels of unemployment, labour under-utilisation and poor working conditions," the ILO said.

And while global employment is expected to recover more quickly in the second half of 2021 -- provided the overall pandemic situation does not worsen -- the ILO warned that the recovery would be highly uneven.

This, it said, was due to inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. So far, more than 75 percent of all the jabs have gone to just 10 countries.

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