THE International Labour Organization (ILO) said Thursday that it upgraded its global estimate of full-time job losses since the beginning of 2021 to 125 million, noting that developing countries are struggling with limited access to vaccines.

The upgraded estimate follows a June forecast of 100 million jobs.

“This represents a dramatic revision of the ILO’s June projection of 3.5% or 100 million full-time jobs,” the United Nations agency said.

The ILO said global hours worked in 2021 are expected to come in at 4.3% below pre-pandemic levels.

High-income countries posted losses of 3.6% in the third quarter, against the 5.7% for low-income countries, the ILO said.

Concrete financial and technical support can counter the “great divergence” in employment recovery trends between rich and poor countries, it said.

Vaccine inequity is partly to blame for the problematic trend, the ILO added, with poor countries holding the potential to address the gap “in just over a quarter” if given sufficient vaccine doses, it said. 

The Philippines, which scored poorly in a global index that measured the recovery of more than 100 countries from the coronavirus pandemic, is struggling to vaccinate its entire adult population amid delivery delays and logistical problems.

Last month, President Rodrigo R. Duterte criticized wealthy nations for hoarding coronavirus vaccines while poor countries struggle to secure shots for their people.

More businesses around the world have been prioritizing fully vaccinated job seekers. Critics have said that making employment conditions based on vaccination status is highly discriminatory. 

In the Philippines, business groups have been urging the government to allow the private sector to impose stricter requirements on unvaccinated employees and patrons, and to decline unvaccinated job applicants. Last month, Mr. Duterte said government workers who refuse to be vaccinated should resign. 

In the absence of vaccines, losses in hours worked around the world “would have stood at 6.0% in the second quarter of 2021, rather than the 4.8% actually recorded,” the ILO said.

“However, the highly uneven roll-out of vaccinations means that the positive effect was largest in high-income countries, negligible in lower-middle-income countries and almost zero in low-income countries,” it said.

Meanwhile, the ILO said the dearth of stimulus packages in poor countries also widened the gap. 

“Estimates show that on average, an increase in fiscal stimulus of 1% of annual GDP increased annual working hours by 0.3 percentage points relative to the last quarter of 2019,” the ILO said, noting that 86% of global stimulus measures were concentrated in high-income countries.

Earlier this year, the Philippine government was urged to back a proposed stimulus package worth P400 billion to help the economy recover from lengthy lockdowns.

Economic managers have said they can only find funding for a package of P173 billion this year. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza