Geneva: The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, which far exceeds the effects of the 2008-09 financial crisis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned.
Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab states (8.1 per cent, equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), Europe (7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent, 125 million full-time workers).
Huge losses are expected across different income groups, especially in upper-middle income countries (7.0 per cent, 100 million full-time workers), said the ILO.
“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies. We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right and urgent measures could make the difference between survival and collapse,” Guy Ryder, ILO’s Director-General, said in a statement.
The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.
The eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 will depend substantially on future developments and policy measures.
“There is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection, of 25 million,” said the ILO report titled “LLO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work”.
More than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.
According to the new study, 1.25 billion workers are employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of “drastic and devastating” increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours.
Many are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income could be devastating, said the ILO report.
Worldwide, 2 billion people work in the informal sector (mostly in emerging and developing economies) and are particularly at risk.
“This is the greatest test for international cooperation in more than 75 years,” said Ryder.
“If one country fails, then we all fail. We must find solutions that help all segments of our global society, particularly those that are most vulnerable or least able to help themselves,” Ryder added.