LABOUR

Africa less cautious about Covid-19, loses least working hours, ILO report

At 13.6 per cent, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group

In Summary
  • The Monitor updates the estimate for the decline in working hours in the first and second quarters of 2020, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.
  •  An estimated 4.8 per cent of working hours were lost during Q1 2020, equivalent to approximately 135 million full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week
Workers prepare flowers for export.
Workers prepare flowers for export.
Image: FILE

Most people in Africa are still going to work despite calls for social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has since claimed over 350,000 lives globally and infected over five million people.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) monitor dubbed COVID-19 and The World of Work: Fourth Edition, Africa lost least working hours at 9.5 per cent compared to other regions in the world, an indication of continued activities despite coronavirus red flag.

The Americas (13.1 per cent), and Europe and Central Asia (12.9 per cent) present the largest losses in hours worked in Q2.

 

The monitor updates the estimate for the decline in working hours in the first and second quarters of 2020, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.

 An estimated 4.8 per cent of working hours were lost during Q1 2020, equivalent to approximately 135 million full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week.

This represents a slight upward revision of around seven million jobs since the third edition of the monitor. The estimated number of jobs lost in Q2 remains unchanged at 305 million.

Furthermore, the report showed that more than one in six young people has stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 per cent.

It indicates that youth are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the substantial and rapid increase in youth unemployment seen since February is affecting young women more than young men.

‘’The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people. Not only is it destroying their employment, but it is also disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labour market or to move between jobs,’’ the report says.

At 13.6 per cent, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group. There were around 267 million young people not in employment, education, or training worldwide.

According to the report,  15-24-year-olds who were employed were also more likely to be in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low paid occupations, informal sector work, or as migrant workers.

“The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group. If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades,’’ ILO director-general, Guy Ryder said.

He added that, if their talent and energy are side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy.

The labour body is now calling for urgent, large-scale, and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programmes and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.

 “Creating an employment-rich recovery that also promotes equity and sustainability means getting people and enterprises working again as soon as possible, in safe conditions,” said Ryder.