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UN: 24 million jobs could be lost due to coronavirus

March 18, 2020

Businesses and individuals around the world are facing up to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN estimates over 24 million people could lose their jobs — if action is not taken now.

Garment workers on sewing machines at a factory in Takhmao town, Kandal province
Image: picture-alliance/ANN/The Phnom Penh Post

More than 24 million people could become unemployed owing to the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the UN announced on Wednesday.

Global unemployment could increase by 5.3 million in a "low" scenario and 24.3 million in a "high" scenario, UN agency the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in a new report.

Read more: Coronavirus set to infect global airlines' fragile health

"However, if we see an internationally coordinated policy response, as happened in the global financial crisis of 2008/9, then the impact on global unemployment could be significantly lower," the ILO wrote on their website. By comparison, 22 million people lost their jobs in this crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already put many businesses under pressure, with some governments pledging economic measures to prevent job losses.

'No longer only a global health crisis'

"This is no longer a global health crisis. It is also a major labor market and economic crisis that is having a huge impact on people," Guy Rider, ILO's director general said.

The report also identifies global levels of so-called working poverty, under which those in employment still live in poverty.

Read more: European stock markets nosedive at open

Between 8.8 million and 35 million people may be in working poverty by the end of 2020 thanks to the effects of COVID-19.

Falls in employment also mean income losses for workers. The UN study puts these at between $860 billion (€793 billion) and $3.4 trillion by the end of 2020.

The report acknowledged the complex variables in predicting the figures.

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