GENEVA — Nearly 25 million jobs could be lost globally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with the retail, travel and tourism service sector “especially vulnerable,” a report by the International Labor Organization said Wednesday.
By comparison, the 2008-09 global financial crisis increased unemployment by 22 million, it said.
“This is no longer only a global health crisis, it is also a major labor market and economic crisis that is having a huge impact on people,” said Guy Ryder, ILO director-general.
The ILO study on COVID-19 notes the prospects for the global economy and employment “are deteriorating rapidly” and argues updated forecasts vary widely — and largely underestimate the situation. They all, however, it said, “point to a significant impact on the global economy, at least in the first half of 2020. These worrisome figures show growing signs of a global economic recession.”
Under a high COVID-19 scenario, notes the ILO assessment, global economic growth would be reduced by 8 percent — from the baseline economic growth of 3 percent for this year — i.e., resulting globally in a contraction of between 4 and 5 percent, Sangheon Lee, ILO director for employment and policy and lead author, told WWD.
“We certainly believe this is the most likely scenario,” he said.
The ILO also projects global labor income losses could hit $3.4 trillion by the end of 2020.
However, the report argues the impact on global employment “could be significantly lower” if there is a coordinated policy response, as happened with the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
“We need that kind of leadership and resolve now,” Ryder said.
The report calls for urgent, large-scale coordinated measures across three pillars: protecting workers in the workplace, stimulating the economy and employment and supporting jobs and incomes.
Meanwhile, the chief of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news briefing Wednesday that more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO, and noted that more than 8,000 people have lost their lives.
In related COVID-19 matters, a report by the World Economic Forum noted cutbacks in commercial flights are adversely impacting the supply of vital medical supplies, already exacerbated by more than 50 countries having slapped export restrictions on such products. “It’s disheartening to see the growing list of export restrictions being placed on medical supplies in the current context,” said Sean Doherty, head of international trade at the WEF.
The urgent need for medical supplies, border closures and the drastic reduction in airliner belly-cargo capacity, Doherty said, “has sparked fears as to whether supply chains can get us the goods we need. Beyond the immediate need for supplies, questions are being raised about the risk inherent in current supply chain structures.”