Working hours lost in 2021 due to the pandemic will be significantly higher than estimated, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released on Wednesday.
The eighth edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the World of Work report also points out that differing recovery rates between developed and developing nations threaten the global economy.
The ILO is now projecting that global hours worked in 2021 will be 4.3% below pre-pandemic levels, equivalent to some 125 million full-time jobs.
The figure represents a dramatic revision of the ILO’s June projection of 3.5% or 100 million full-time jobs.
“Dramatically unequal vaccine distribution and fiscal capacities are driving these trends, and both need to be addressed urgently,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told journalists at a UN press conference.
“I think the overall message … is that this recovery is faltering.”
The ILO warned that a “great divergence” in employment recovery trends between developed and developing countries will persist without concrete financial and technical support.
It said the disparities are primarily driven by the significant differences in the rollout of vaccinations and fiscal stimulus packages.
“Estimates indicate that for every 14 persons fully vaccinated in the second quarter of 2021, one full-time equivalent job was added to the global labor market. This substantially boosted the recovery,” said the ILO.
“Globally, losses in hours worked -- in the absence of any vaccines -- would have stood at 6.0% in the second quarter of 2021, rather than the 4.8% recorded.”
- Uneven vaccination rollout
The highly uneven rollout of vaccinations means that the positive effect was most significant in high-income countries, negligible in lower-middle-income countries, and almost zero in low-income countries, said the ILO.
“These imbalances could be rapidly and effectively addressed through greater global solidarity in respect of vaccines,” read the report.
In the third quarter of 2021, total hours worked in high-income countries were 3.6% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
By contrast, the gap in low-income countries stood at 5.7% and 7.3% in lower middle-income countries.
From a regional perspective, Europe and Central Asia saw the most negligible loss of hours worked compared to pre-pandemic levels – 2.5%.
It was followed by Asia and the Pacific with 4.6%, the Americas with 5.4%, Africa with 5.6%, and the Arab States with 6.5%, the report said.