Thu | May 28, 2020

COVID-19 eliminates the equivalent of 14 million jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean - ILO

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2020 | 10:44 AM
Vinícius Pinheiro, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean - Contributed photo

The International Labour Organization (ILO) says the catastrophic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a loss of 5.7 per cent in working hours in the second quarter of this year, the equivalent to 14 million full-time workers, in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The ILO made the declaration in a report released on Tuesday in Geneva.

"We are facing a massive destruction of jobs, and this poses a challenge of unprecedented magnitude in the labour markets of Latin America and the Caribbean," said Vinícius Pinheiro, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"We already know that at the same time that the health emergency is overcome, we will have to face a true reconstruction of our labour markets."

According to the ILO, worldwide, the loss of hours of work was 6.7 per cent, equivalent to 195 million full-time workers in the second quarter of 2020.

The international body describes the pandemic as the worst crisis since World War II, which is causing a rise in unemployment and job insecurity.

The report also estimates huge losses across different income groups, noting that the sectors most at risk include hospitality and restaurant services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 50 per cent of all workers are employed in the sectors most impacted by the crisis, such as commerce and services, according to data from the latest ILO Labour Overview for the region, which was released in January just before the global contagion of COVID-19 began.

Pinheiro emphasised that there is particular concern about the employment of women, who could be more affected because they are over-represented in the health, tourism and services sectors.

He also explained that the impacts of the crisis on tourism will have a greater impact on the Caribbean region, which is highly dependent on the jobs and income generated by this sector.

The new ILO report highlights that these sectors employ many people in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where an unforeseen loss of income has devastating consequences.

It says that countries with high levels of informality face additional challenges, both health and economic, including the lack of social security coverage.

According to ILO estimates in Latin America and the Caribbean, the informality rate is 53 per cent, which affects more than 140 million men and women at work.

“The countries of the region are going to need ambitious measures to preserve jobs, promote businesses and protect incomes to get out of this intensive care situation," emphasised Pinheiro.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.