One in six young people in work have lost job since pandemic began, says International Labour Organisation (ILO)

May 28 (The Night’s Watch) – Young people across the globe are bearing the brunt of the employment hit from coronavirus, according to new research that suggests that more than one in six who were previously in work have stopped working since the pandemic began.

In a report published on Wednesday, the International Labour Organization found that one in six of those it had surveyed aged 18 to 29 who had been in work before the pandemic began said they had since stopped working – amounting to as many as 200 million people.

Among those surveyed who remained in employment, working hours had fallen by an average 23 per cent, the ILO said. Overall, the ILO estimated that the total number of hours worked by people of all ages globally would decline 10.7 per cent in the second quarter of this year, compared with the final three months of 2019, the equivalent of 305m full-time jobs.

The economic effect of the pandemic is “inflicting a triple shock on young people”, the ILO said: “Not only is it destroying their employment, but it is also disrupting their education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labour market or move between jobs.”

The Geneva-based agency said the pandemic risks creating a “lockdown generation” of young people forced to play catch-up on the labour market for at least a decade. It called for large-scale and targeted policy responses to support young workers, such as training, apprenticeships and guarantees.

Testing and contact tracing are also important to help mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on employment, the agency said.

Places that have undertaken widespread testing and tracing have experienced an average 7 per cent reduction in hours worked, compared with an average 14 per cent in countries with less intensive regimes.

“Where there is rigorous and intense testing and tracing in place, labour market outcomes have been more positive,” said Guy Ryder, director-general of the ILO. “If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades. If [young people’s] talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to rebuild a better, post-Covid economy,” added Mr Ryder.

The Americas, which the World Health Organization has identified as the region that is hardest-hit by the pandemic, will bear the brunt of the job losses, the UN agency said.

Even before the pandemic hit the global economy, young people were facing turmoil in the job market, with 75 per cent working in the informal sector. Youth unemployment had already topped levels seen before the financial crisis.

“So we started already from a situation of great hardship, and what has happened since has made matters considerably worse,” Mr Ryder said.

Young women, who make up a disproportionate number of front-line workers in health and social work as well as within the informal labour force, are particularly badly affected, the ILO found.

Women experienced the largest increase in the unemployment rate in April 2020, and face a greater care burden than men. NW

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