Most severe crisis since the 1930s

Less than 3% of the world’s workers are living in places with economy-wide shutdowns, compared to a peak of more than 40% last April, the International Labor Organization said.

Still, the damage in 2020 was even worse than the ILO predicted last spring, when it estimated that four in five people’s jobs had been affected by full or partial closures and predicted a 6.8% fall in working hours.

This has been the most severe crisis for the world of work since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The ILO said roughly half of the hours lost were due to firms cutting back on work.

Employment also dropped by 114 million compared to 2019, as about 33 million people lost jobs, while the rest became “inactive” – either giving up work or looking for a job.

Overall, participation in the labor force dropped by 2.2 percentage points last year, compared to just a 0.2 percentage point drop between 2008 and 2009, the ILO said.

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