WORK HOURS equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs were lost in 2020 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, about four times the job losses stemming from the economic slowdown triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007-2009, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.

According to the seventh edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the World of Work published on Jan. 25, the ILO said the latest estimate was “approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis.”

“New annual estimates confirm that labor markets around the world were disrupted in 2020 on a historically unprecedented scale. In 2020, 8.8% of global working hours were lost relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs,” the ILO report stated.

The reduced work hours were attributed to rising unemployment and underemployment due to the economic effects of COVID-19. The ILO estimated the loss of full-time jobs at 114 million.

The working hours lost resulted in a decline in worker income of 8.3%, equivalent to $3.7 trillion, or 4.4% of global gross domestic product.

ILO Director-General Guy Rider said 2021 might signal recovery but the state of the labor market remains uncertain. He added that any recovery in the employment market this year could be uneven. 

“The signs of recovery we see are encouraging, but they are fragile and highly uncertain, and we must remember that no country or group can recover alone,” he said in a statement Monday. — Gillian M. Cortez