The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed more than 100 million more workers into poverty, the UN said on Wednesday. As working hours have decreased and access to good-quality jobs remains as difficult as ever, the labour market is in a crisis, the UN’s International Labour Organisation warned in a report.

Employment was not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, it said. The ILO’s annual World Employment and Social Outlook report indicated that the planet would be 75 million jobs short at the end of this year compared to if the pandemic had not occurred. And it would still have 23 million fewer jobs by the end of next year than would otherwise have been the case.

Covid-19 “has not just been a public health crisis, it’s also been an employment and human crisis”, ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters.

“Without a deliberate effort to accelerate the creation of decent jobs, and support the most vulnerable members of society and the recovery of the hardest-hit economic sectors, the lingering effects of the pandemic could be with us for years in the form of lost human and economic potential, and higher poverty and inequality.”


The report showed that global unemployment was expected to stand at 205 million people in 2022 — far higher than the 187 million in 2019. But the situation is worse than official unemployment figures indicate. Global employment is expected to recover more quickly in the second half of 2021 — provided the overall pandemic situation does not worsen.

But even recovery would be highly uneven due to inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, the ILO warned. So far, more than 75 percent of all the jabs have gone to just 10 countries.

The limited capacity of most developing and emerging economies to support strong fiscal stimulus measures will also take its toll, the ILO said. In those countries, it said, the quality of newly created jobs would likely deteriorate.

This situation has led to a rise in poverty. 108 million more workers around the world were categorised as poor or extremely poor compared to 2019 – that means they living on less than $3.20 per person per day.

According to Ryder, five years of progress towards eradicating working poverty had been undone.

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