Global labour market hamstrung by unequal vaccine distribution – ILO

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BERLIN – The pandemic-induced loss in working hours in 2021 will be equivalent to 125 million full-time jobs, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday, in a sign that the global labour market is not recovering as expected this year.

That number is 25 million higher than what the ILO predicted in its last report in June, affected primarily by the disparities in vaccine rollouts in poorer and richer countries.

Globally, the number of hours worked is set to be 4.3% less than the pre-pandemic level, the ILO said.

However, when that figure is calculated based on countries’ income level, there is a 2.1 percentage points difference: Rich countries saw only a 3.6% loss, versus a 5.7% for poorer nations.

The ILO said economic stimulus packages were also responsible for the disparities between countries.

Low-income countries could make up that gap in just over a quarter if they were given more equitable access to vaccines, the ILO said.

The uptake in vaccine rollouts at the start of 2021 had slightly softened the blow of lost working hours in the second quarter, the ILO said, when it had predicted a loss of 6%, 1.2 percentage points more than the 4.8% actually recorded.

The ILO uses hours worked, instead of the unemployment rate, for example, in an attempt to compare how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the labour market globally in light of differing definitions of employment within each country.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


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