125 million workers in Asia-Pacific at risk of unemployment
Currently, more than 4 out of 5 people (81%) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are affected by full or partial workplace closures because of COVID-19. If the pandemic drags on without adequate measures being taken, 6.7% of working hours globally, or equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, will be wiped out in the second quarter of 2020, warned the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a new report.
“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies,” said Guy Ryder, ILO’s director-general. “we have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right and urgent measures could make the difference between survival and collapse.”
Asia-Pacific is expected to be worst affected, with 125 million full-time workers facing the prospect of unemployment. Europe is projected to lose 12 million full-time jobs, with Arab states accounting for 5 million full-time workers.
Huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle income countries (7%, 100 million full-time workers), while the sectors deemed most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, as well as business and administrative activities.
Calling this “the greatest test for international cooperation in more than 75 years,” the ILO’s Ryder warned of a domino effect around the world. “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.”
The ILO report estimated that 1.25 billion workers are currently 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 can be crippling.
Urging governments around the world to implement measures that can limit COVID-19’s immediate and long-term impact, Ryder concluded, “The choices we make today will directly affect the way this crisis unfolds and so, the lives of billions of people. We must aim to build back better so that our new systems are safer, fairer and more sustainable than those that allowed this crisis to happen.”