The Financial Express

ILO predicts 5.0m job losses in Bangladesh due to pandemic

| Updated: November 19, 2021 19:59:23

ILO predicts 5.0m job losses in Bangladesh due to pandemic

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has projected 7.4 per cent less working hours or the loss of 5.0-million full-time jobs for Bangladesh in 2021 than the 2019 pre-crisis baseline.

The Covid-19's impact on labour markets attributes that the recovery in lower middle and low-income countries, including Bangladesh, continued to suffer larger losses than the high- and upper-middle-income countries.

The latest ILO report styled 'ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work' says labour market recovery has stalled during 2021, with little progress being made since the fourth quarter of 2020.

Bangladesh's working hours in 2020 were 11.9 per cent below the level attained in the fourth quarter of 2019 which were nearly 8.0-million full-time jobs.

The eight edition of the report, published on October 27, shows a stalled global recovery and significant disparities between advanced and developing economies in recovering the labour market from Covid-19 fallout.

The loss of working hours in 2021 will be significantly higher than previously estimated, as a two-speed recovery between developed and developing nations threatens the global economy as a whole, it says.

"After some significant gains in the second half of 2020, the recovery in working hours has stalled during 2021. During the third quarter of 2021, it's estimated that global hours worked (adjusted for population aged 15-64) were still 4.7 per cent below the 2019 pre-crisis benchmark, equivalent to the loss of 137 million full-time jobs."

According to the report, this global picture is of a 'great divergence' between richer and poorer economies, which reflects the evolution of the pandemic, and the uneven availability of fiscal stimulus and vaccines.

Without concrete financial and technical support, it warns, "great divergence" in employment recovery trends between developed and developing nations will persist.

In the third quarter of 2021, total hours worked in high-income countries were 3.6 per cent lower than the fourth quarter of 2019.

By contrast, the gap in low-income countries stood at 5.7 per cent and in lower-middle income countries, at 7.3 per cent.

The ILO report says progress in vaccination has emerged as a critical factor for labour market recovery as higher vaccination rates are associated with less stringent workplace restrictions.

In early October, the share of fully vaccinated people globally reached 34.5 per cent, with considerable differences between high-income (59.8 per cent) and low-income countries (1.6 per cent).

The latest global estimates and country-level data confirm the unequal employment impact of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 as well as the fragile recovery trends over the first half of 2021, it notes.

The number of people employed and participating in the labour force has not fully recovered and 'labour market slack' remains significant in many countries.

Young people, especially young women, continue to face greater employment deficits, while the situation continues to be lagging in middle-income countries.

Globally, losses in hours worked - in the absence of any vaccines - would have stood at 6.0 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, rather than the 4.8 per cent actually recorded.

According to the report, the highly uneven vaccine rollout means the positive effect was largest in high-income countries, negligible in lower-middle-income countries and almost zero in low-income countries.

The ILO estimates that if low-income countries had a more equitable access to vaccines, working-hour recovery would catch up with richer economies in just over one quarter.

It says fiscal stimulus packages and productivity gap continued to be the other key factor in the trajectories of recovery.

The fiscal stimulus gap remained largely unaddressed, with around 86 per cent of global stimulus measures being concentrated in high-income countries.

On average, estimates show, an increase in fiscal stimulus of 1.0 per cent of annual GDP increased annual working hours by 0.3 percentage points relative to the last quarter of 2019.

The virus crisis has also impacted productivity, workers and enterprises in ways that have led to greater disparities.

As lower-productivity enterprises and lower-paid workers were disproportionately harmed by the pandemic, global labour productivity (output per working hour) grew in 2020 by more than twice the long-term average.

In 2021, the growth dropped significantly, with negative growth in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

"The current trajectory of labour markets is of a stalled recovery, with major downside risks appearing, and a great divergence between developed and developing economies," ILO director-general Guy Ryder says in a statement.

"Dramatically, unequal vaccine distribution and fiscal capacities are driving these trends and both need to be addressed urgently, he adds.

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