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Post-COVID Unemployment Expected to Reach 205 Million 

FILE - A Unemployed Graduate of South Africa holds a placard and raises her fist while staging a demonstration at Church Square in Pretoria, Aug. 14, 2020.

An analysis of post-COVID-19 employment prospects projects global unemployment will reach 205 million in 2022, greatly surpassing the pre-crisis level of 187 million in 2019. The International Labor Organization has launched its new edition of the "World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021."

Authors of the report say the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis. It also is an employment and human crisis that will have long-lasting ramifications for economies around the world. They say the social and economic impact of the pandemic is far from over and will continue to be felt until at least 2023.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder says the employment situation in low-income countries is expected to be worse than in high-income countries. He says wealthier countries that have better access to vaccines and strong fiscal support are expected to recover faster from the crisis.

“For many millions of people, the working hour losses combined with the lack or absence of social protection have simply meant an increase in poverty… An estimated 31 million working people are now classified as extremely poor, living on less than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day,” he said.

He says five years of progress in reducing working poverty have been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

The report finds the worst affected regions in the first half of 2021 have been Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia. It says global employment is expected to get better in the second half of this year provided the pandemic does not worsen.

Among the biggest losers are women. Ryder warns the crisis threatens to undermine and even reverse progress on gender equality.

“Women have been more likely than men to lose work and, at the same time, saw their unpaid hours of work, care work in particular, increase. And, so without specific action, this will bring back outmoded gender divisions and roles,” he said.

The ILO says many young people also have been badly affected by the pandemic. Globally, it notes youth employment fell 8.7% in 2020, compared with 3.7% for adults. It says that disruption in their ability to get work experience could have a long-lasting effect on both wages and employment prospects.

Authors of the report warn without a recovery strategy that specifically targets those groups hardest hit by the pandemic, the inequities that exist in the world will continue to worsen.