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COVID-19 crisis | 'Massive increase' in youth unemployment, women particularly hard-hit: UN

"As we recover from this crisis, a lot of young people will be left behind. The danger is that this initial shock will last a decade or longer," ILO chief Guy Ryder said.

May 27, 2020 / 09:51 PM IST

The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in unemployment worldwide but it has hit young workers hard, the United Nations said on May 27, noting that more than one in six people aged under 29 were forced to stop working due to the COVID-19 crisis.

A new study by the International Labour Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations, stated that the pandemic has affected young people 'disproportionately', and had the potential to adversely affect their work opportunities and career options for decades to come.

"As we recover from this crisis, a lot of young people will be left behind. The danger is that this initial shock will last a decade or longer," ILO chief Guy Ryder said, adding that effects of the pandemic will scar people permanently.

According to AFP's report, the global youth unemployment rate stood at 13.6 percent in 2019 – far higher than any other group.

The ILO study further said it expected the crisis to wipe out 10.7 percent of working hours worked globally during the second quarter of 2020.


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While the overall workforce is suffering, the UN agency pointed to recent data from a range of countries suggesting “a massive increase” in youth unemployment since February. Among the young, women are particularly hard-hit.

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"In Canada, the overall unemployment rate rose six percentage points from February to April. However, for young men, it increased by 14.3 percentage points (to 27.1 percent) and for young women, it rose by 20.4 percentage points to 28.4 percent. Similar trends were seen in the United States and a range of other countries," the report said.

ILO has said that it does not have enough data to determine the overall youth unemployment rate since the coronavirus pandemic began. But, in a survey of people aged 29 and under, the organisation found that worldwide, more than 17 percent of youth had been forced to stop working due to the crisis. And those who have continued to work have had working hours cut, on an average, by 23 percent.

The report warned that young people are facing a “triple shock” from the crisis, which is not only destroying their employment but has also disrupted education and training, and has made it far more difficult to try to enter the labour market or move between jobs.

Moreover, in the survey, 60 percent of young women and 53 percent of young men viewed their career prospects “with uncertainty or fear”.

The ILO report called for an "urgent and large-scale" response to the crisis, including employment and training guarantee programmes for young people.

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first published: May 27, 2020 09:50 pm
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