Since the pandemic hit, claims for unemployment benefits have soared in some countries notably the US and by far less in others, for example, Japan.
According to the UN’s International Labour Organization, as job losses escalate, nearly half of the global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods.
As a result of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers (representing the most vulnerable in the labour market), out of a worldwide total of two billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion, have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living. This is due to lockdown measures and/or because they work in the hardest-hit sectors.
The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 per cent in the income of informal workers globally. This translates into a drop of 81 per cent in Africa and the Americas, 21.6 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 70 per cent in Europe and Central Asia.
Without alternative income sources, these workers and their families will have no means to survive.
In the week to 25 April, 3.8 million Americans made an unemployment claim giving a six-week total of around 30 million. It was, however, the fourth consecutive week of falls in numbers of new claims.
As per the data, the US private sector shed more than 20 million jobs in April. The big question is how long those jobs will take to come back.
The US Congressional Budget Office predicts 15% of people could be unemployed by the third quarter of this year up from less than 4% in the first quarter.
The unemployment rate in Canada in April was 13%, up 5.2 percentage points on March, according to data from the country’s official statistics bureau.
So far in the COVID-19 crisis, more than 7.2 million people have applied for emergency unemployment assistance.
There is more of a time lag on the UK’s official unemployment data than some other nations. Its main statistics office shows employment at a record high and unemployment at around 4%. However, KPMG forecasts this will rise to just under 9% during the lockdown period.
Almost 2 million people have applied for the main benefit – Universal Credit since the country’s lockdown began. A quarter of the UK’s employed workforce have registered for the government’s job retention scheme, which pays 80% of an employee’s wages.
Predictions of job losses are gloomy, particularly in the aviation sector, following the announcement of significant redundancies by carriers including British Airways.
More than 10 million workers in France’s private sector are being supported by the state, through a scheme called chômage partiel (partial employment or short-time working).
This figure represents a large proportion of France’s workforce.
“That’s more than one employee out of two, and six companies out of 10,” French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud Penicaud told the country’s BFM Business radio.