Global social and employment devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic: U.N. report

Global social and employment devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic U.N. report

Dr. Ron Brown

June 3, 2021

video on global employment and the social outlook from the International Labour Organization (ILO), a U.N. agency, describes the risk of unparalleled long-term damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, which will require resolute policy enactments to bring about recovery. Based on the ILO’s release of World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2021, the video describes how the pandemic has devastated the health, livelihoods, and employment of populations around the globe, despite mitigation measures to meet the public health crisis.

Losses measured in working hours in 2020 are equivalent to putting 255 million workers out of work for a year, in comparison with an expected increase of 30 million new jobs in 2020 without the pandemic. Hardest hit areas are Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. As labour income fell, poverty rose, reversing the past five years of progress against working poverty.

Economic recovery is expected to be uneven across the globe unless measures are implemented to close recovery gaps. A high percentage of micro-enterprises and small firms are threatened with financial insolvency. Many jobs created during recovery are projected to have poor quality and low productivity. The crisis has had a greater impact on women who suffered proportionally higher job losses. Younger people have a harder time entering the job market and benefitting from on-the-job skill training. Travel restrictions have prevented hiring of migrant workers.

Obviously, the adverse economic and social consequences documented in this important ILO report are just as likely to have resulted from collateral damage from mitigation measures against the pandemic as from the coronavirus infection itself. When nations were encouraged to adopt draconian lockdown measures in 2020, the full extent of adverse consequences on society were unknown. Going forward, the severe economic and societal consequences published in the ILO report must be included in the risks-benefits analysis for any future lockdown plans under consideration by public health authorities and politicians.