The report stated that the Latin American and Caribbean areas lost 26 million jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and began 2021 with a complex employment landscape intensified by new waves of virus and slow vaccination methods that make the prospects for recovery labour markets more unpredictable.
“The hunt for better sanity will require ambitious action to recoup from setbacks in the world of the profession,” suggested Vinícius Pinheiro, ILO director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It is now time to refurbish the jobs lost by the coronavirus pandemic and create new decent work opportunities,” Pinheiro stated, noting that despite adversity, action must be taken and consensus reached so that “2021 is the year of vaccination and economic recovery with more and better jobs”.
The ILO regional director highlighted that “in the pursuit of improvement, addressing pre-existing situations in the region will be inevitable, and those states are vital to understanding why the impact of the pandemic on employment was so firm.
Many of the difficulties we had before the pandemic remain in place, although they are now more critical”. “High informality, small financial spaces, persistent inequality, low productivity and poor coverage of social protection, coupled with difficulties that persist such as child labour and forced labour, are part of the continuing difficulties in the region,” he added.
The ILO regional technical notes, “The employment dilemma in the pandemic: Towards a human-centred job recovery”, insists that the labour impacts were devastating in the second quarter of 2020 when the employment and assistance indicators plummeted and then partially revived.
However, by the end of 2020, the region’s average work rate had fallen from 57.4 per cent to 51.7 per cent, a sharp drop compared to the loss of around 26 million jobs, of which 80 per cent, or more than 20 million people, left the workforce, the ILO said.
It said this vital exit from the workforce was modern and has been characteristic of 2020. It noted that by comparison, the lay-off rate has only partially reflected the magnitude of the difficulties faced by labour markets in the region, increasing by just over two percentage points between 2019 and 2020, from 8.3 per cent to 10.6 per cent.
This situation would have begun to change, explained Roxana Maurizio, ILO Regional Labour Economics Specialist and author of the technical note, who commented that in 2021 there could be “a significant increase in the employment rate when millions of people who had ceased to participate in the labour force return to the workforce”.
In addition to lost jobs, the ILO said the region encountered a sharp contraction in working hours and reduced labour incomes, which account for 80 per cent of what people in Latin America and the Caribbean get. It said the region had reported the largest losses in hours worked universally.