Week of 27 April 2020
The equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs will be lost this quarter, as we face a 10.5 per cent decline in global working hours; 1.6 billion informal economy workers (out of 2 billion) are in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed – this represents half of the total global working population of 3.3 billion (according to the ILO)
On Wednesday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its third edition of COVID-19 and the world of work, finding that:
- Global working hours declined by 4.5 per cent in the first quarter (when compared to the last quarter of 2019), which represents approximately 130 million full-time jobs. The ILO estimates that global working hours will decline by 10.5 per cent in the second quarter, which represents approximately 305 million full-time jobs (when compared with the last quarter of 2019). This estimated loss in working hours is “a significant deterioration” when compared to ILO’s previous estimate (which was 195 million), mainly because of the prolongation and extension of containment measures.
- Around 436 million companies and own-account workers (i.e. who are self-employed) are facing high risks of serious disruption worldwide. Of these, over half (232 million) are in wholesale and retail. Small companies and own-account workers account for over 70 per cent of employment globally in retail trade, and 60 per cent in the accommodation and food services sector. The ILO highlights that small enterprises around the world, and in low-income and middle-income countries in particular, play a major role as providers of jobs. At the same time, they will be particularly severely hit since they often lack access to credit, have few assets and benefit less from fiscal measures.
- Of the total global working population of 3.3 billion, about 2 billion work in the ‘informal economy’. “Income losses for informal economy workers are likely to be massive.” Of these 2 billion people, almost 1.6 billion are significantly impacted by lockdown measures and/or working in the hardest-hit sectors. The global decline of earnings for these informal workers is 60 per cent in the first month of crisis (with Africa and Latin America being the hardest hit regions). It is anticipated that the rate of relative poverty for informal workers will increase by 34 percentage points globally (with an increase in 56 percentage point in lower-middle-income economies). (Relative poverty is defined as the proportion of workers with monthly earnings that fall below 50 per cent of the median earnings in the population).
- The ILO calls for urgent policy measures, stating that “[s]upport to businesses and jobs need to target the most vulnerable in order to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the confinement period.” The ILO calls for immediate support in the areas of (1) stimulating the economy and employment, (2) supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes, (3) protecting workers in the workplace and (4) relying on social dialogue for solutions.