Unemployment to stay above pre-COVID levels until ‘at least’ 2023: World labor body

2022 global work forecast downgraded by International Labor Organization due to COVID-19

2022-01-17 16:15:29


Global unemployment is expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023, the International Labor Organization (ILO) head said on Monday.

At a UN press conference, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said this year's unemployment estimate is 207 million, compared to 186 million in 2019, as he introduced the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2022.

“Inequality and the unequal policy response to COVID-19 have been a constant concern of the ILO driven,” said Ryder.

The unequal response is impacted by “unequal fiscal space” and the fact that richer countries could invest more in stimulus and protection than their counterparts in developing and emerging countries, he noted.

Such factors indicate the need to reinforce “international cooperation,” said Ryder.

‘Fragile' recovery

“The recovery process in labor markets is fragile, incomplete, and uneven, and there are still very large areas not only of risk but of hardship in labor markets because of the impact of COVID-19,” said Ryder.

The ILO said it had downgraded its forecast for labor market recovery in 2022, projecting a deficit in hours worked globally equivalent to 52 million full-time jobs, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The downgrade in the 2022 forecast reflects, to some extent, the impact that recent variants of COVID-19, such as delta and omicron, are having on the world of work, as well as significant uncertainty regarding the future course of the pandemic,” said the ILO.

The previous full-year estimate in May 2021 projected a deficit of 26 million full-time equivalent jobs.

The ILO's report also cautions that the overall impact on employment is more significant than represented in its figures because many people have left the labor force.

In 2022, the global labor force participation rate is projected to remain 1.2 percentage points below that of 2019.

While this latest projection is an improvement on 2021, it remains almost 2% below the number of global hours worked pre-pandemic, according to the ILO.

The organization warned that the damage to economies “is likely to require years to repair, with potential long-term consequences for labor force participation, household incomes and social and – possibly – political cohesion.”

There can be no real recovery from the pandemic without a broad-based labor market recovery, said Ryder.

“And to be sustainable, this recovery must be based on the principles of decent work – including health and safety, equity, social protection, and social dialogue."