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LONDON — The United Nations’ International Labour Organization has warned that job market recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic looks set to slow in 2022.

In its 2022 World Employment and Social Outlook trends report, published Monday, the ILO forecast that the number of hours worked globally in 2022 would be 1.8% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019, just before the onset of the pandemic.

The ILO forecast that there would be an even bigger deficit in working hours in 2022 than it previously estimated. It projected that the fall in global working hours this year would now be the equivalent of losing 52 million full-time jobs, nearly double the 26 million it previously forecast in May 2021.

Guy Ryder, ILO director-general, said in a press briefing ahead of the release of the report on Monday that this “downside readjustment is quite considerable.”

Ryder said that there were a number of reasons behind the expected slowdown in the labor market recovery, including the spread of new Covid variants, such as delta and omicron.

The ILO expected the labor market recovery to remain weak through 2023.

Ryder said that the far-reaching changes to economic and social behavior brought on by the Covid crisis had reduced the demand for, and the supply of, labor. He said that the ILO expected this trend to continue for “as long as the pandemic itself remains uncontrolled.”

The ILO estimated that global unemployment is expected to reach 207 million in 2022, versus 186 million reported in 2019.

Ryder said that to be “sustainable this recovery must be based on the principles of decent work, employment creation, labor rights, social protection and social dialogue.”

He referred to the guidance that was offered in the ILO’s call-to-action, that was adopted by its 187 member states in June 2021. For example, the ILO suggested that states should provide incentives to employers to retain workers, such as shorter working weeks.  

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