The Financial Express

Jobless to be higher this year

| Updated: January 18, 2022 15:46:14

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Some 3.6 million people in Bangladesh would remain unemployed in 2022, surpassing the pre-pandemic level by 0.5 million, necessitating prudent government policy interventions.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) comes up with the projection in its latest report titled 'World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2022 (WESO Trends)', published Monday.

According to the report Bangladesh's unemployment rate would remain 5.0 per cent in 2022, higher than the pre-pandemic level by 0.6 per cent.

The UN labour agency forewarns a slow and uncertain recovery as the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on global labour markets, preventing a full and balanced recovery.

It finds significantly varied patterns of recovery across regions, countries and sectors.

Since the onset of the recovery, employment growth trends in low- and middle-income countries, including Bangladesh, have remained significantly below those observed in richer economies, owing largely to the lower vaccination rates and tighter fiscal space in developing countries, it observes.

In pre-pandemic 2019, Bangladesh's unemployment rate was 4.4 per cent or some 3.1 million unemployed labour forces and the ILO report projects that Bangladesh would see a negligible 0.2-per cent annual recovery until 2023 since 2020 when the rate was 5.4 percentage points.

"The impact has been particularly serious for developing nations that experienced higher levels of inequality, more divergent working conditions and weaker social protection systems even before the pandemic," reads the WESO Trends report.

The ILO has also downgraded its forecast for labour-market recovery in 2022, projecting a deficit in hours worked globally equivalent to 52 million full-time jobs, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The previous full-year estimate in May 2021 projected a deficit of 26 million full-time equivalent jobs.

While this latest projection is an improvement on the situation in 2021, it remains almost two-per cent below the number of global hours worked pre-pandemic, according to the WESO Trends.

Global unemployment is expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023 and Bangladesh's unemployment rate would be 4.8 per cent in the year.

According to the ILO data, the unemployment rate in India in 2022 would be 5.4 per cent which was 6.0 per cent in 2021.

Pakistan, however, performed better than Bangladesh and India in recovering its labour market.

The ILO forecasts 4.2-per cent unemployment rate in Pakistan in 2022 which was 3.5 per cent in 2019.

The 2022 global jobless is estimated at 207 million compared to 186 million in 2019.

The ILO's report also cautions that the overall impact on employment is significantly greater than represented in these figures because many people have left the labour force.

In 2022, the global labour-force-participation rate is projected to remain 1.2 percentage points below that of 2019.

The downgrade in the 2022 forecast reflects, to some extent, the impact that recent variants of Covid-19, such as Delta and Omicron, are having on the world of work, as well as significant uncertainty regarding the future course of the pandemic.

The WESO Trends report warns of the stark differences in the impact the crisis is having across groups of workers and countries. These differences are deepening inequalities within and among countries and weakening the economic, financial and social fabric of almost every nation, regardless of development status.

"This damage is likely to require years to repair, with potential long-term consequences for labour force participation, household incomes and social and - possibly - political cohesion," it reads.

The disproportionate impact of the crisis on women's employment is expected to last in the coming years, the report said adding while the closing of education and training institutions "will have cascading long-term implications" for young people, particularly those without internet access.

"Two years into this crisis, the outlook remains fragile and the path to recovery is slow and uncertain," says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

"We are already seeing potentially lasting damage to labour markets, along with concerning increases in poverty and inequality. Many workers are being required to shift to new types of work - for example in response to the prolonged slump in international travel and tourism."

"There can be no real recovery from this pandemic without a broad-based labour market recovery. And to be sustainable, this recovery must be based on the principles of decent work - including health and safety, equity, social protection and social dialogue," added Mr Ryder.

The ILO report showed that, as in previous crises, temporary employment created a buffer against the shock of the pandemic for some. While many temporary jobs were terminated or not renewed, alternative ones were created, including for workers who had lost permanent jobs. On average, the incidence of temporary work did not change.

Explaining temporary work in the garment sector of Bangladesh, the report said medium-skilled worker hired on a short-term basis, paid on a pro rata monthly salary rate based on a fixed number of hours per week, formally hired, with paid leave, but without the same benefits as permanent counterparts.

The employer relies on workers available for short-term work in order to meet short-notice requirements from overseas clients, explained the report.

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