ILO gives grim global job loss over the next 90 days

Saturday April 11 2020

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers confiscate goods from an informal trading post during a mixed patrol of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Johannesburg Metro Police Department in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, on April 14, 2020. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP


At least 195 million people around the world are going to be jobless in the next three months due to the effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic, the International Labour Organisation has said.

In a statement released last Tuesday, the UN agency said full or partial lockdown measures taken by governments around the world to curb the spread of the disease was now affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, a figure representing around 81 per cent of the world’s workforce.

The ILO estimates that 1.25 billion workers, representing almost 38 per cent of the global workforce, are employed in sectors that are now facing a severe decline in output and a high risk of workforce displacement.

Key sectors include retail trade, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing.

Steep decline

Wholesale and retail trade segments represent the biggest share of workers who are typical lowly paid and unprotected. The sector has 482 million workers who include among other checkout clerks, stockers, shopkeepers etc.


The accommodation and food services sector is severely affected and it accounts for 144 million workers.

According to the ILO report, this sector is suffering from almost full closure in some countries and steep decline in demand in cases where operations can continue.

The manufacturing sector which employs 463 million workers has also been hit hard as workers are asked to stay home, factories closed and global supply chains grinds to a halt.

The transport, storage and communication accounts for 204 million jobs around the world including airline pilots and crew members, drivers and other delivery workers as well as people who work in warehouses that support transport and globally supply chains.

Catastrophic losses

In its second edition of the ILO Monitor, Covid-19 and the world of work, the organisation said in the current situation, businesses across a range of economic sectors are facing catastrophic losses, which threaten their operations and solvency, especially among smaller enterprises, while millions of workers are vulnerable to income loss and layoffs.

The impact on income-generation is especially harsh for unprotected workers and the most vulnerable groups in the informal economy.

“Employment contraction has already begun on a large (often unprecedented) scale in many countries. In the absence of other data, changes in working hours, which reflect layoffs and other temporary reductions in working time, give a better picture about the dire reality of the labour market situation,” said the report.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder who spoke to a French TV confirmed that the four sectors are particularly hard hit by the crisis.

“These are the four areas of activities which we think are in the sharp ends of the employment impact,” he added.

The ILO head said that there have been several efforts from the governments around the world but losses in jobs will not be averted.

“We have seen some remarkable interventions from governments individually but these notwithstanding, the next three months for the second quarter of 2020, we are going to see the loss of equivalent 195 million full time jobs around the world.”

Higher proportion

“There were considerable efforts being made by individual’ governments to put physical stimulus into their economies, to accommodate monetary policies and this is welcome, however the problem is that it is of course done individually. There a very little by way of global co-ordination,” said Mr Ryder.

“Particularly in low- and middle-income countries, hard-hit sectors have a high proportion of workers in informal employment and workers with limited access to health services and social protection. Without appropriate policy measures, workers face a high risk of falling into poverty and will experience greater challenges in regaining their livelihoods.”