labour market: Multiple crises hurt global labour market in Q1 of 2022: ILO

The global market recovery has deteriorated in the first quarter of 2022 on the back of multiple global crises including the lockdowns in China and the war on Ukraine and has led to rising inequalities within and between countries, the International Labour Organisation said.

“After significant gains during the last quarter of 2021, the number of hours worked globally dropped in the first quarter of 2022 to 3.8% below the pre-crisis benchmark which was the fourth quarter of 2019. This is equivalent to a deficit of 112 million full-time jobs,” the ILO said in the 9th edition of the World of Work, released on Monday.

According to the ILO, multiple new and interconnected global crises, including inflation (especially in energy and food prices), financial turbulence, potential debt distress, and global supply chain disruption – exacerbated by war in Ukraine – means there is a growing risk of a further deterioration in hours worked in 2022, as well as a broader impact on global labour markets in the months to come.

“The global labour market recovery has gone into reverse. An uneven and fragile recovery has been made more uncertain by a self-reinforcing combination of crises. The impact on workers and their families, especially in the developing world, will be devastating and could translate into social and political dislocation,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “It is now more essential than ever that we work together and focus on creating a human-centered recovery.”

As per the report, there is a great and growing divergence between richer and poorer economies. “While high-income countries experienced a recovery in hours worked, low- and lower-middle-income economies suffered setbacks in the first quarter of the year with a 3.6 and 5.7% gap respectively when compared to the pre-crisis benchmark,” it said, adding these diverging trends are likely to worsen in the second quarter of 2022.

“In some developing countries, governments are increasingly constrained by the lack of fiscal space and debt sustainability challenges, while enterprises face economic and financial uncertainties and workers continue to be left without sufficient access to social protection,” ILO added.

The ILO is of the view that even after two years of the pandemic, many in the world of work are still suffering from the impact on labour markets with labour incomes not yet recovered for the majority of workers and the increase in the gender gap in hours worked. In the first quarter of 2022, the global gender gap in hours worked was 0.7 percentage points greater than the pre-crisis benchmark when a large gender gap was already present.

Further, the sharp rise in job vacancies in advanced economies at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 has led to a tightening of labour markets with a growing number of jobs available relative to job seekers, it said. “But overall, there is no strong evidence that labour markets are generally overheated, given the considerable pool of unemployed and underutilized labour in many countries,” it added.

According to ILO, the disruptions in production and trade, exacerbated by the Ukraine crisis, has led to an increase in food and commodity prices and is badly hurting poor households and small businesses, especially those in the informal economy.

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