February 2, 2021
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Tentative signs of recovery are emerging in global labour markets, following unprecedented disruption in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  according to the latest report from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

New annual estimates in the seventh edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work confirm the massive impact that labour markets suffered in 2020.

The latest figures show that 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost for the whole of last year (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019), equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This is approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis.

These lost working hours are accounted for either by reduced working hours for those in employment or “unprecedented” levels of employment loss, hitting 114 million people.

Significantly, 71 per cent of these employment losses (81 million people) came in the form of inactivity, rather than unemployment, meaning that people left the labour market because they were unable to work, perhaps because of pandemic restrictions, or simply ceased to look for work. Looking at unemployment alone drastically understates the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market.

These massive losses resulted in an 8.3 per cent decline in global labour income (before support measures are included), equivalent to US$3.7 trillion or 4.4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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