The Strategist

International Labor Organization: Working time decreased by 14% across the globe because of crisis

07/02/2020 - 08:34

According to the estimates of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the working hours in the world have decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic by 14%, which is comparable to the loss of 400 million jobs. Such data, however, may reflect new ways of adapting of the the global labor market to a crisis by reducing staff time instead of firing people.

As follows from the new release of labor market monitoring organized by the ILO, , the duration of working hours in the world decreased by 14% in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to the loss of 400 million jobs. The organization recorded the maximum reductions in hours actually worked in the countries of North and South America (18.3%); in other regions the figures were smaller by a third. So, in the countries of Europe and Central Asia the indicator reached 13.9%, in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region - 13.5%, in the Arab countries - 13.2%, in Africa - 12.1%.

As the authors of the ILO report, the organization’s decision to use the measurement of working time, instead of such a traditional method of assessing the state of the labor market as an indicator of unemployment, “gives a better picture of the current situation”.

The transition to a new indicator may also reflect changes in the response to the crisis of the world labor market. Thus, according to Eurostat data for April, unemployment in the EU, although it increased by 0.2 percentage points compared with March, amounted to 6.6% - 0.2 percentage points lower than the April indicator of 2019. With such a slight increase in unemployment the reduction in working time indicates the spread of the transfer of workers to part-time or vacation regimes. In the United States, where the ILO records the maximum reduction in working hours, its figure went down to 13.3% in May, although unemployment in April rose to 14.7% (from 4.4% at the beginning of the month).