PESHAWAR: Vendors display clothes to customers at Saddar Bazaar. The ILO says that the pandemic continues to cause an unprecedented reduction in economic activity, with an estimated 4.8 per cent of working hours lost during the first quarter of 2020.—APP
PESHAWAR: Vendors display clothes to customers at Saddar Bazaar. The ILO says that the pandemic continues to cause an unprecedented reduction in economic activity, with an estimated 4.8 per cent of working hours lost during the first quarter of 2020.—APP

ISLAMABAD: More than one in six young people have 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, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a report on Wednesday.

According to the ‘ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the World of Work’, 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.

A total of 178 million young workers around the world, more than four in ten young people employed globally, were working in hard-hit sectors when the crisis began. Almost 77pc or 328m of the world’s young workers were in informal jobs, compared with around 60pc of adult workers aged 25 and above.

The prospects for the second quarter of 2020 remain dire, with the latest ILO estimates revealing a decline in working hours of around 10.7pc relative to the last quarter of 2019, which is equivalent to 305m full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week and using the updated baseline.

The crisis continues to cause an unprecedented reduction in economic activity and working time, with the latest data confirming the previous estimates of working hours lost. An estimated 4.8pc of working hours were lost during the first quarter of 2020, equivalent to approximately 135m full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week and using the updated baseline, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The estimated decline in work activity in the first quarter of 2020 is uneven across regions. While the number of hours worked in the first quarter of 2020 declined by 6.5pc in Asia and the Pacific, all other major regions experienced decreases of 3pc or less in the first quarter.

This labour market pattern is closely related to the timing of outbreaks and the introduction of physical distancing measures in different regions of the world. Global patterns in hours lost in the first quarter are driven to a great extent by the exceptional impact of the Covid-19 crisis in China during that quarter.

From a regional perspective, the Americas and Europe and Central Asia present the largest losses in hours worked. In the Americas, the loss of working hours in the second quarter is expected to reach 13.1pc relative to the pre-crisis level. In Europe and Central Asia, the decline is estimated at 12.9pc.

Because of weaker infrastructure and higher barriers to accessing technology - hardware and software – and online learning services, the negative impact of school and training closures on outcomes for learners is greater in low-income countries and in poorer households in both low and high-income countries.

At 13.6pc, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group. There were around 267m young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) worldwide. Those 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. If their 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 re-build a better, post-Covid economy,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2020