Global unemployment is expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023, says the International Labor Organization (ILO). It has downgraded its forecast for labor market recovery in 2022, projecting a deficit in hours worked globally equivalent to 52 million full-time jobs, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.
ILO’s latest projection “Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2022” remains almost 2% below the number of global works worked pre-pandemic. The report says that the 2022 level is estimated at 207 million, compared to 186 million in 2019. It warns that the overall impact on employment is significantly greater as many people have left the labor force. The downgrading of the labor forecast reflects the impact of recent variants of COVID-19 – delta and omicron on the world of work. There is also significant uncertainty regarding the future course of the pandemic.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said there can be no real recovery from this pandemic without a broad-based labor market recovery. “And to be sustainable, this recovery must be based on the principles of decent work, including health and safety, equity, social protection and social dialogue.”
Ryder said that two years into the global health crisis, the outlook remains fragile, with the path to recovery being slow and uncertain. “We are already seeing potentially lasting damage to labor markets, along with concerning increases in poverty and inequality. Many workers are being required to shift to new types of work.” He noted that there can be no real recovery from the pandemic without a broad-based labor market recovery.
The report stated that effects are being felt in labor markets across the world. There is also a great divergence in recovery patterns. It highlighted that the European and the North American regions are showing the most encouraging signs of recovery, while Southeast Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean have the most negative outlook. The report said labor market recovery, at the national level, is the strongest in high-income countries. Lower-middle-income economies are faring worst.
“The disproportionate impact of the crisis on women’s employment is expected to last in the coming years. While the closing of education and training institutions will have cascading long-term implications for young people, particularly those without internet access,” the report said.
The ILO highlighted that for some, temporary employment created a buffer against the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many temporary jobs were terminated or not renewed, alternative ones were created.