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The seventh edition of the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Monitor presents the latest analysis of the labour market impact of COVID-19.

According to this annual report, tentative signs of recovery are emerging in global labour markets, following unprecedented disruption in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It confirms the massive impact that labour markets suffered in 2020. The latest figures show that 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost for the whole of last year (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019), equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This is approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis.

The publication highlights that women have been more affected than men by the pandemic’s labour market disruptions. Also, younger workers have also been particularly hard hit, either losing jobs, dropping out of the labour force or delaying entry into it. The report shows the uneven impact on different economic, geographic, and labour market sectors. It highlights concerns of a “K-shaped recovery”, whereby those sectors and workers hit hardest could be left behind in the recovery, leading to increasing inequality, unless corrective measures are taken.

The worst affected sector has been accommodation and food services, where employment declined by more than 20 per cent, on average, followed by retail and manufacturing. In contrast, employment in information and communication, and finance and insurance, increased in the second and third quarters of 2020. 

Overall, the ILO Monitor records massive damage to working time and income, with prospects for a recovery in 2021 slow, uneven and uncertain unless early improvements are supported by human-centred recovery policies. The publication puts forward three scenarios for recovery (baseline, pessimistic and optimistic) and provides a series of policy recommendations for recovery.

Skills intelligence publication details

Target audience
Digital skills for the labour force.
Digital technology / specialisation
Digital skill level
Geographic scope - Country
Industry - field of education and training
Generic programmes and qualifications not further defined
Geographical sphere
International initiative
Publication type