2 billion people may lose their jobs in coming months due to pandemic: Report

Top five billionaires—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison—saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion, or 19 per cent during pandemic

Worldwide, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), more than half of the world’s workforce (almost two billion people) are at risk of losing their jobs or going down to part-time work in 2020 due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 pandemic.

The report said in the next two to three months, one out of six people in the world will lose their jobs, with the unemployment rate to exceed 17 per cent.

“It’s hard to overestimate the radical changes in the global workforce due to the crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19,” said the report. The report cited estimates by the International Labor Organization that global labour income losses will reach $3.4 trillion in 2020.

BCG says more than 80 per cent of all the layoffs in the world are likely to occur in the non-food retail sector, manufacturing, hotel and restaurant business, tourism, and construction.

“We expect that the world’s unemployment rate will start returning to balance by the end of 2020. However, [the] pandemic has already launched the process of long-term structural changes – from flexible and remote work schemes to accelerated automation – and these changes will affect up to 1.5 billion jobs over the next decade.”

BCG also estimated that by 2030, automation will put 12 per cent of current jobs at risk, and about 30 per cent of jobs will require completely new skills.

The study also suggested that more than 10 per cent of the global workforce is highly likely to work remotely on a permanent basis. For office workers, the figure could climb to 30 per cent.

To prevent the collapse of supply on the labour market, BCG said support measures should be provided by governments. This includes subsidizing salaries and expanding social protection as well as financial and tax exemptions and temporary redistribution of employment.

“In addition, now it is time to prepare for the after COVID-19 future, introducing in the next one to three years a common strategy for professional skills, in which retraining will be central,” said the BCG.

Statistics Canada says the country’s economy in the first three months was the worst since 2009 due to COVID-19 as businesses closed and laid-off workers.

The gross domestic product fell at a rate of 8.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.

Over the last two months unemployment has increased and will continue to increase worldwide but billionaires got richer during the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies said their fortunes soared by $434 billion or 15 per cent during the U.S. lockdown between mid-March and mid-May. The billionaires’ combined net worth rose from $2.948 trillion to $3.382 trillion.

The top five billionaires—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison—saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion, or 19 per cent during the pandemic.


Sarah Murphy/Alberta Press Leader

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