A sign is seen outside a branch of Jobcentre Plus, a government run employment support and benefits agency, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, August 6, 2020.[Photo/Agencies]
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused a devastating loss of work hours, and a massive drop in labor income for workers around the world, especially those from developing countries, a newly released international report said.
Global labor income is estimated to have declined by 10.7 percent, or $3.5 trillion, in the first three quarters of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, according to the sixth edition of the International Labour Organization's ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work.
The biggest drop was in lower-middle income countries, where the labor income losses reached 15.1 percent, with the Americas as the hardest hit region at 12.1 percent, it said.
The new edition noted that the global working hour losses in the first nine months of 2020 have been "considerably larger" than estimated in the previous edition issued on June 30.
For example, the revised estimate of global working time lost in the second quarter of this year is for 17.3 percent, equivalent to 495 million full time equivalent jobs based on a 48-hour working week, while the earlier estimate was for 14 percent, or 400 million jobs.
It is expected to see an 8.6 percent loss of global working hours, or 245 million jobs, in the fourth quarter of 2020, an increase from the previous estimate of 4.9 percent, or 140 million jobs, the report said.
One reason behind the estimated increases is that workers in developing and emerging economies, especially those in informal employment, have been much more affected than by past crises.
In addition, the document said that the drop in working-hour losses is "more attributable to inactivity than to unemployment", with important policy implications.
The sixth edition also looked at the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus in alleviating labor market impacts, saying that the larger the fiscal stimulus (as a percentage of GDP), the lower the working-hour losses.
In countries where sufficient data is available for the second quarter of 2020, it showed that an additional fiscal stimulus of 1 percent of annual GDP would have reduced working hour losses by a further 0.8 percent.
Developing economies have limited capacity to finance such measures.
Guy Ryder, director general of the ILO, encouraged urgent actions to overcome the negative economic, social and employment impacts brought by the pandemic, which includes sustaining support for jobs, businesses and incomes.
"There is a pressing need for the international community to set out a global strategy for recovery through dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. No group, country or region can beat this crisis alone," he said.