While the employment scenario in 2021 and 2022 will witness a rebound, it will not be enough to close the gap in employment brought about by the pandemic. According to the World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2021 report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the employment growth for 2021, is forecast at 100 million jobs, followed by 80 million more in 2022. However, this will not suffice if all those who have lost their jobs are to be taken care of, and if all the new entrants into the workforce are considered. After all, the working-age population is also growing. With economic recovery, more people will enter the labour market but the dearth of jobs will lead to a rise in unemployment.
The shortage of jobs caused by the pandemic is estimated to be about 75 million in 2021 and 23 million in 2022. This will only worsen the already poor condition of the labour market before the pandemic struck. In fact, it is anticipated that the global unemployment will touch 205 million and the unemployment rate is expected to be about 5.7 per cent in 2022. The situation has not been this bad since 2013.
The widespread disruption in the labour markets has affected each and every country across the globe. Job loss has been higher for those who were already at a disadvantage in the labour market, even before the pandemic struck, such as women and youth. The travel, tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit hard, and the mobility, health and safety restrictions imposed to contain the infection only made the situation worse for these sectors. Not only has labour income fallen, but the number of people struggling to survive in “extreme and moderate poverty” has spiked. The after effects will continue for years to come say experts.
Even the special measures and policies introduced to handle the crisis are not enough to help the overall situation. This is because, it is a huge strain on economies when aid has to be given to the jobless and measures have to be taken to deal with the growing needs of the healthcare sector, and action has to be taken to contain the virus, all at the same time. It is too much to handle for most nations except the high-income ones. Naturally, labour markets are nowhere close to returning to normalcy or to pre-COVID levels.
Most people who lost their jobs amidst the pandemic could not really get down to searching for new jobs due to the restrictions imposed by most countries. To add to this, with many shops and establishments shutting down due to drop in business, there was a dip in demand for labour. This naturally caused once employed workers to become completely inactive.
Women in the labour force in Eastern Europe came down from 67.7 million in 2019, to 66.6 million in 2020. For males, the numbers came down from 75.8 million in 2019 to 74.9 million in 2020. Labour force participation dropped from 51.5 per cent to 50.8 per cent for women and from 67.3 per cent to 66.7 per cent for men. The number of women unemployed, increased from 3.1 million in 2019, to 3.8 million in 2020. For men, the increase was much more — 3.7 million in 2019, to 4. 3 million in 2020.
In South Asia, the number of women in the labour force came down from 157 million in 2019, to 144 million in 2020, and the number of men fell from 547 million to 530 in the same period.
Number of employed women was 148 million in 2019, and 135 in 2020. In case of men, there were 518 million employed in 2019, and only 493 million in 2020.