World Employment and Social Outlook 2021

News: The report titled World Employment and Social Outlook was recently released by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The report analyses the impact of the crisis on the labour market across the world. It offers projections for recovery and gives details of the unequal impact of the crisis on different groups of workers and enterprises and calls for a broad-based human-centred recovery.

Highlights of the report:

  • It has pushed over 100 million more workers into poverty worldwide. The world would be 75 million jobs short at the end of this year compared to if the pandemic had not occurred.
  • Relative to 2019, an estimated additional 108 million workers are now extremely or moderately poor, meaning that they and their family members are having to live on less than USD 3.20 per day (It is the World Bank poverty line for lower-middle-income countries) in purchasing power parity terms.
  • The sharp increase in poverty rates is due to lost working hours as economies went into lockdown, outright job losses, and a decline in access to good quality jobs. Five years of progress towards the eradication of working poverty have been undone, as working poverty rates have now reverted to those of 2015.
  • The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in the labour market, with lower-skilled workers, women, young people or migrants among the most affected.
  • Many people have held onto their jobs but have seen their working hours cut dramatically.
  • In 2020, 8.8% of global working hours were lost compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 — the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs. While the situation has improved, global working hours have far from bounced back, and the world will still be short the equivalent of 100 million full-time jobs by the end of this year.
  • Unemployment rate of 6.3% this year (2020-21), falling to 5.7% next year (2021-22) but still up on the pre-pandemic rate of 5.4% in 2019.
  • Women have suffered disproportionate job losses while seeing their unpaid working time increase.
  • The burden of intensified childcare and home-schooling activities has disproportionately fallen on them.
  • As a result, women’s employment dropped by 5% compared with 3.9% for men.
  • There will be pandemic’s longer-term “scarring” effects on workers and enterprises. Looking ahead, the projected employment growth will be insufficient to close the gaps opened up by the crisis,

Way forward:

  • The recovery would remain fragile in many countries due to the uneven rollout of vaccination campaigns and higher levels of public debt and deficits that would make it difficult to tackle the effects of the pandemic. There is an urgent need to build back better — create productive employment opportunities and foster long-term labour market prospects for the most vulnerable.
  • There is a need to strengthen social protection schemes like the MGNREGS in India and make sure nobody is left behind. This would require strong institutions and social dialogue and strong international cooperation to fight global disparities.