The coronavirus crisis has taken a much heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the UN said Tuesday, warning that the situation in the Americas was particularly dire. In a fresh study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14% compared to last December - equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs.
That is more than double the number forecast by the UN organization back in April, when it expected 6.7% of working hours to be lost by the end of the second three-month period of the year.
It is also far higher than the ILO estimate in late May, when it expected 10.7% of global working hours to vanish during the period.
Things are getting worse. The job crisis is deepening, ILO chief Guy Ryder said in an interview. We are not through this yet, he warned.
The ILO said the new figures reflected the worsening situation in many regions in recent weeks, especially in developing economies.
Its report pointed out that 93% of the world's workers live in countries still affected by some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions.
The United States and Latin America are currently the areas hardest-hit by the pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and infected more than 10 million.
Soaring transmission rates in the United States, which alone accounts for a quarter of all infections and deaths globally, and in countries like Brazil, which accounts more than 1.3 million cases, have hit the labor market hard.
The crisis is hitting particularly hard the Americas, where we see the loss of jobs as being the worst in the world, Ryder said. Overall, the Americas lost over 18% of working hours during the second quarter, equivalent to 70 million full-time jobs, the ILO said.
South America has shed a full 20.6% of all working hours, while North America has seen its working hours dip 15.3%, the study found.
By comparison Europe, the Arab states, and most of Asia saw working hours dwindle by around 13%, while they fell just over 12% in Africa.