1.5 million Caribbean jobs lost because of COVID-19—ILO

The In­ter­na­tion­al Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) is fore­cast­ing that 9.9 per cent of work­ing hours in the Caribbean are ex­pect­ed to be lost dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of 2020, be­cause of the im­pact of COVID-19.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est da­ta re­leased in the ILO Mon­i­tor, that loss is the equiv­a­lent of 1.5 mil­lion full-time jobs.

In a news re­lease, the ILO notes that this em­ploy­ment out­look for the Caribbean re­gion is in line with the glob­al pat­tern and is a ma­jor drop in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2020 from the last quar­ter of the pre­vi­ous year.

By com­par­i­son, dur­ing the first quar­ter the hour loss was es­ti­mat­ed at 1.7 per cent, or 250,000 in full-time equiv­a­lent jobs.


Pe­ri­od = 2020 Q1

*  Per­cent­age hour lost (%)  =  1.7%

*  Equiv­a­lent loss in full-time jobs  =  250,000
    (48-hour work week)

Pe­ri­od = 2020 Q2

*  Per­cent­age hour lost (%)  =  9.9%

*  Equiv­a­lent loss in full-time jobs  =  1,500,000
    (48-hour work week)

The ILO ex­plains that be­cause of da­ta lim­i­ta­tions, these lat­est es­ti­mates in­clude on­ly: The Ba­hamas; Bar­ba­dos; Cu­ba; Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic; Haiti; Ja­maica; Puer­to Ri­co; Saint Lu­cia; Saint Vin­cent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and To­ba­go; and the Unit­ed States Vir­gin Is­lands.

The ILO’s an­a­lysts point out that this new ILO re­search fo­cus­es on the de­cline in hours worked and is es­ti­mat­ed via a “Now­cast­ing” Mod­el. The da­ta are not based on more com­mon—but less pre­cise, in the cur­rent con­text—labour mar­ket in­di­ca­tors such as the un­em­ploy­ment rate. While the full-time equiv­a­lent em­ploy­ment loss­es are pre­sent­ed to il­lus­trate the sever­i­ty of the es­ti­mates of hours lost, the fig­ures should not be in­ter­pret­ed as num­bers of jobs ac­tu­al­ly lost nor in­creas­es in un­em­ploy­ment.

Di­rec­tor of the ILO De­cent Work Team and Of­fice for the Caribbean, Clau­dia Co­en­jaerts, notes the “Now­cast­ing” Mod­el paints a clear­er pic­ture of what is hap­pen­ing right now.

“Such fig­ures show that the im­pact on work­ers is vast and calls for at­ten­tion both to those who lost their jobs and in­come, and those who are asked by em­ploy­ers to re­duce work­ing hours and thus earn less,” Di­rec­tor Co­en­jaerts ob­serves. “Gov­ern­ments need to make sure so­cial pro­tec­tion mea­sures reach these cat­e­gories of work­ers.”

She adds: “This is al­so an op­por­tu­ni­ty to use ‘down time’ for build­ing skills for em­ploy­a­bil­i­ty. A small in­vest­ment, which may beget ul­ti­mate gains for the work­ers, em­ploy­ers and economies.”

Ad­di­tion­al de­tails on the ILO re­search method­ol­o­gy are avail­able in the Tech­ni­cal An­nex 1 of the ILO Mon­i­tor: COVID-19 and the World of Work, Third Edi­tion.

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