Coronavirus job losses creating ‘lockdown generation,’ UN group warns
With more than one in six young people out of work, international leaders on Wednesday warned of the repercussions of creating a “lockdown generation” of young people who struggle to find work.
The United Nation’s International Labor Organization issued the grim prediction in a report showing that more than one in six young people have stopped working since the COVID-19 crisis began, while those who still have jobs have had their hours cut by 23 percent.
“If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades,” ILO director-general Guy Ryder said in a statement. “If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy.”
The pandemic has slammed young workers with a “triple shock” by killing their jobs, disrupting their education and creating barriers to entering the labor market or moving between gigs, the ILO said.
That’s reflected in ILO data — roughly half of young students report likely delays in completing their studies, 10 percent fear they won’t be able to finish at all, and a majority of young workers “view their career prospects with uncertainty or fear,” according to the report.
The ILO urged officials to ward off lasting damage to the youth labor market with aggressive policy actions, such as employment and training “guarantee” programs in developed nations. Such measures should address the specific challenges faced by young women, who have been hit harder than men, the United Nations agency said.
Young workers were already in rough shape before the pandemic kneecapped the global economy, the ILO said. Last year’s global youth unemployment rate was 13.6 percent, higher the 12.3 percent recorded in 2007 before the last financial crisis, the group’s report shows.
The ILO’s report is just the latest sign of how the coronavirus crisis has gutted the global labor market. The organization expects the world economy to lose the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of the year, with the Americas accounting for 13.1 percent of the losses. The US unemployment rate hit a record 14.7 percent in April.
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