By M A Hossain
The coronavirus pandemic has made a severe worsening situation on the jobs market globally, especially in developing countries. The situation is direr than we anticipated. According to the International Labor Organization(ILO) that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14% compared to the last December which is equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs. This estimation is more than double the figure forecast by the UN organization back in April. ILO's report also pointed out that 93% of the world's workers still affected by some sorts of workplace closure, and sweeping containment measures during this pandemic. As a result, almost 16 billion informal economic workers(the most valuable in the labor market), out of a worldwide total of 2 billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion have been suffering massive damage to their capacities to earn a living. Worldwide more than 436 million enterprises face a high risk of serious disruption.
In Asia, the extent of the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 outbreak will claim millions of jobs. The World Bank forecast that South Asia might post 1.8% to 2.8% GDP growth. Research from Dhaka University of health economics has estimated 15 million people from different sectors will become unemployed. About one million Bangladeshi migrated workers are facing deportation from the Middle East who used to push Tk 35 billion in our rural economy annually. According to the Center for Monitoring the Inland Economy(CMIE), 122 million Indians lose their jobs in April, and the unemployment rate is 27.1%. Out of 65.5 million workers in Pakistan, approximately 72% are in the informal sectors which means no work no pay — thus, lockdown makes them jobless. And about 18 million people lose their jobs in Pakistan. Afghanistan is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as internal conflict. That makes 6 million people lose their jobs. Japan has expanded its loan program by 279 billion for financial assistance to small and medium-sized firms. South Korea experienced an all-time high of unemployment benefit payments of 898.2 billion Won. General Statistics Office of Vietnam reports that pandemic cost nearly 5 million workers in just the first quarter of this year. China is facing the challenge to provide jobs for the college graduates this year and about 80 percent of the workplaces are small and medium-sized enterprises who all are facing tremendous disruptions. NOMURA, a Japan-based analytics group, recently opined that unemployment rates in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand will be higher than they were during the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. Gulf nations have adopted austerity measures to manage the budget deficit amid a heavy fall in petroleum prices and the Covid-19 pandemic. The countries have cut salaries of the employees and reduce the official staff. They are sending back millions of migrant workers due to the bankruptcy of the companies.
In Europe, the economy continues to reel from the coronavirus's impact, with the travel ban devastating the aviation and hospitality industry in particular. It's aviation giant Airbus is planning to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide which is 11% of its total workforce. Also, airlines with weaker balance sheets could find it is difficult to survive in this pandemic. Greece has seen its economy hit hard by lockdown and travel bans that cause all about ending its lucrative tourism seasons before it begins. Germany's export-oriented growth stumbled by a new lockdown when slaughterhouses hit by an outbreak of the coronavirus. Almost 2.8 million people have lost their jobs in the UK, since, the country's lockdown began.
In America, people are experiencing the greatest restrictions for soaring transmission rate which alone accounts for a quarter of all infections and deaths globally. The US Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted lockdown to contain the virus may accelerate the unemployment rate to 30% in the second quarter with an unprecedented 50% drop in gross domestic product. 40 million people have applied for unemployment benefits. Department of Labor reports, that the national unemployment rate is 14.7% and the percentage of unemployed women is 55% in the June quarter. According to the BBC report, 2000 companies are fully shut down in the US. Canada has ever spiked the highest payment of unemployment benefits. Lat America becomes the new hot spot for coronavirus. This crisis has caused 25% of jobs to cut.
In Africa, nearly 20 million jobs are threatened by the Covid-19 crisis both in formal and informal sectors. According to the African Union, the immediate impact on informal employment will be particularly acute for youth. An estimated 9 million workers(mostly youth) in Africa are directly involved in artisans and small scale mining (ASM) and 54 million indirectly depend on ASM for their livelihoods. However, almost all ASM activities are informal and occur outside the legal framework. As a result, the lockdown and social distancing measures put ASM workers at a bleak future.
In Australia, a new study at the University of Melbourne-according to the treasury figures released on 14 April, Australia's unemployment rate is expected to increase from 5.1% to 10% in the June quarter due to the pandemic. On 20 April, the Australian hotel association announced a jobless of 200,000 due to the coronavirus and associated lockdown measures. Film and Television production in Australia announced that 20,000 jobs were lost. Australia Bureau of Statistics reports that between March and April, full-time employment decreased by 220,500 and a part-time job by 373,800. The tourism and hospitality industry also hits hard by the coronavirus.
To minimize the extent of the economic damage caused by Covid-19 outbreak, we need a true and visionary leadership who needs to act at a large scale and coordinated manner with policy coherence at national and global levels. Developing Countries need to focus on investing in people through projects to create job opportunities. Corruption and social insecurity may stagnate economic activities and create new jobs. This pandemic could be a litmus test for the global leaders as well as global organizations.
M A Hossain, a political and defense analyst writes on diversified topics in Bangladeshi and foreign newspapers .