BEERG: ILO Predicts Pandemic to Destroy Equivalent of 195 Million Jobs Globally

April 10, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic will cut working hours by almost 7% worldwide in the second quarter of this year, a “catastrophic” effect equivalent to the loss of 195 million full-time workers, the International Labour Organization warned this week.

1.25 billion workers—almost two-fifths of the 3.3 billion-strong global workforce—were in sectors suffering drastic output falls, from retail and real estate to manufacturing, accommodation and food services.

More than four-fifths of the global workforce live in countries where full or partial lockdown measures are in place.  “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

The extent of job losses will depend on policies governments adopt.  A more severe short-term impact is expected, based on business survey data and Google search trends that illustrate “the dire reality of the current labour market situation.”

The number of hours worked globally would fall 6.7% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the previous three months, based on these assumptions.  This reflects both lay-offs and other temporary working time reductions equivalent to the loss of 195 million full-time jobs, based on a 40-hour working week.

Global allies engaged:  Meanwhile, HR Policy’s global ally, the Latin America Employee Relations Group (LAMERG), is hosting a COVID-19 response webinar focused on employer best practices in Brazil on April 14 at 11:00 AM EDT.   This is especially critical as the president and federal government of Brazil have adopted what is essentially a “life and business as usual” approach to the pandemic.  If you or a colleague would be interested in attending the webinar, contact LAMERG Executive Director Steve Gilbert at

Read the full BEERG Global Labor Newsletter.