A full recovery of the global labor market can take years


New forecasts show that it will take at least two years for global unemployment to return to pre-pandemic levels, and unemployment in poor countries remains high as the labor market in developed countries becomes increasingly tight.

The pandemic disrupted the global labor market, and initially the unemployment rate skyrocketed around the world.Rapid increase in demand due to the resumption of affluent economies such as the United States Caused great confusion In the labor market, businesses need workers. But at the same time, unemployment is high due to vaccine shortages in many poor countries.

The U.S. labor market may be approaching or already With full employmentHowever, UN agencies said on Monday that it is far from true in many other parts of the world. Omicron variant The Covid-19 virus may be expanding the process of getting people back to work.

According to new forecasts, the Geneva-based International Labor Organization is likely to recover global working hours at half the pace of this year’s forecast, with unemployment from 214 million last year to 207 million. He said it would decrease to 10,000. , And by 2023 it will reach 203 million, well above the 186 million recorded in 2019.

If the labor market continues its current path, the number of unemployed will probably return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024, ILO Secretary Guy Ryder said.

“Two years after this crisis, the outlook remains fragile, the road to recovery is slow and uncertain,” Ryder said.

UN agencies said that the recovery in employment was weaker than expected, primarily as a result of the epidemic of new coronavirus variants, including Delta and recent Omicrons. Partial closure of the world economy In particular, it hindered the recovery of the tourism and international travel industries.

I also emphasized that Unbalanced nature of recoveryIn richer countries, employment will recover much faster. In the United States, the unemployment rate in December was 3.9%, and many economists believe the country is at or near full employment. Anyone who wants to work can get it..

Even in the euro area, where employment recovery is generally slower than in the United States, unemployment was below the pre-pandemic level of 7.2% in November.

The American workforce is changing rapidly. In August, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs. This is part of what many call “mass layoffs.” Let’s see where the workers go and why. Photo Illustration: Liz Ornitz / WSJ

The ILO said rich countries will account for one-fifth of the world’s workforce, while likely to account for half of the decline in global unemployment between the end of 2020 and the end of 2022. Unemployment has returned to pre-pandemic levels of 29 million in all rich countries. In contrast, the unemployment rate in developing countries is expected to be 174 million, well above the pre-pandemic record of 157 million.

Ryder said the equivalent of a second-speed recovery is primarily due to developed countries with abundant access to vaccines and “unequal financial strength that can bring the challenge of reinvigorating the economy.” Stated.

Unemployed people in developing countries have far less opportunity to receive government assistance than unemployed people in rich countries, so the ILO said delays in the recovery of the global employment market would lead to increased poverty.The World Bank said last week in its latest report on the outlook for the global economy brought about by Covid-19. Widening income inequality It reverses the decline recorded in the 20 years leading to a pandemic between rich and poor countries.

The ILO said rising energy and food prices are increasing the challenges faced by those who have lost their jobs in poor countries, but rising interest rates, which many central banks have announced to curb high inflation, are further. Warned that it could cause problems.

Many economists believe that these high inflation rates are partly driven by a shortage of workers in certain sectors and locations.

The ILO has a high unemployment rate in many countries, in addition to Many people left and didn’t come back To the labor force. It is estimated that the number of working-age or job seekers in the working-age population will be 1.1 percentage points lower in 2022 than in 2019.

Supply chain blockages are also hampering recovery, and companies in developed countries can struggle to get the products their customers want. The ILO said that bringing production closer to its own country could have a long-term negative impact on employment in poor countries.

“A severe supply chain shock can create uncertainty in the business environment and lead to the restructuring of production areas that can have a significant impact on employment,” said the ILO.

Write in Paul Hannon paul.hannon@wsj.com

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A full recovery of the global labor market can take years

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