GENEVA - A new assessment of the global labor market finds that recovery from the employment crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic will be fragile and will worsen inequalities between rich and poor countries. The projection comes in a new report from the United Nations' International Labor Organization.
ILO economists say labor markets are recovering from the pandemic-induced crisis much more slowly than previously expected. They project the number of global working hours this year will be 1.8% below the numbers of pre-pandemic hours worked in the last quarter of 2019.
That deficit, they say, is equivalent to a loss of 52 million full time jobs, twice as large as the number predicted in last year's global market survey. ILO director general, Guy Ryder, says this shortfall in the labor supply comes on top of persistently high pre-crisis levels of unemployment.
"In 2022, we project that global unemployment will stand at 207 million and that is 20 million above the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Put in percentage terms, we expect the 2022 unemployment rate to be 5.9%," Ryder said.
The report finds a great divergence in recovery between regions. It says the European and North American regions are showing encouraging signs of recovery. The worst affected regions are Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Ryder says the richer countries are expected to emerge from this crisis in better shape than the poorer countries. He says a big gap exists between the labor market prospects of countries depending on their level of income and development.
"Many low-and-middle-income economies are struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels of employment and to job quality. An insufficient access to vaccines is putting pressure on their health care systems with tight fiscal space limiting the ability of their governments to use stimulus measures to support their labor markets," he said.
Ryder says the International Labor Organization has not taken a policy position on the legitimacy or otherwise of vaccination mandates in the workplace. He says a fundamental problem facing worksites is the unequal access to vaccines.
For him, he says, the bottom line is to ensure that people are able to work in healthy, safe environments.