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UN says coronavirus pandemic could leave up to 24.7m unemployed

Geneva, March 18, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic could cost up to 24.7 million jobs around the world if governments fail to come up with a coordinated policy response to the economic fallout of the health crisis, an official said.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said this on Wednesday in Geneva.

If countries implement large-scale measures to protect jobs, stimulate the economy and boost employment, unemployment will only grow by 5.3 million, up from last year’s global total of 188 million, the UN body said.

“In 2008, the world presented a united front to address the consequences of the global financial crisis, and the worst was averted,” ILO Director General Guy Ryder said in a statement.

“We need that kind of leadership and resolve now,” he added.

However, the ILO also noted that the financial crisis boosted global unemployment by 22 million.

The forecast also said that companies would reduce work hours and wages, leading to increased underemployment.

Self-employment will not be able to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 viral disease because health measures are restricting the movements of service providers and goods, the ILO warned.

Workers stand to lose at least 860 billion dollars in income by the end of the year, which will hurt consumption.

In addition, the ILO expects that the number of people who live in poverty in spite of having a job will increase by between 8.8 million and 35 million people.

The UN labour body previously predicted the number of working poor to drop by 14 million this year.

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