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UN warns of ‘lockdown generation’ as 1 in 6 young workers loses job

UN warns of ‘lockdown generation’ as 1 in 6 young workers loses job

dpa
Geneva
A sixth of the world’s young labour force has stopped working since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday in a report which warned of long-term disadvantages for today’s youth.
In a global survey, the Geneva-based UN body also found that the Covid-19 crisis is hurting young people’s chances of entering the labour market.
Around 10 per cent of students expect that they will not be able to complete their current education. Half said that their studies would be delayed.
“That leads us to be extremely concerned for the welfare of young people,” ILO director general Guy Ryder said in an online press briefing, warning of a “lockdown generation” that could face lower wages and higher unemployment for years to come.
“The danger is that this initial shock to young people will last for a decade or more than a decade,” Ryder said.
More than 11,000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 took part in the survey.
The ILO pointed out that global youth unemployment before the current crisis already stood at 13.6 per cent last year, above the level seen before the 2008 global financial crisis.
Data collected after 2008 does not bode well for the current young generation.
Young people who lost their jobs during the financial crisis have not managed to catch up with their peers who kept working, as they still face higher unemployment risks and far lower incomes, according to the ILO.
While the global shock of 2008 mainly reduced demand for labour, the present crisis adds another problem in the form of interrupted education, the UN organization said, pointing out that schools in poorer countries may not be able to switch to online teaching.
The ILO does not yet have enough data to calculate the current level of global youth unemployment, but trends from some regions such as North America indicate that young workers are far more affected by the pandemic than older ones.
While Canada’s overall unemployment rate rose 6 percentage points from February to April, it jumped 14 points among young men and 20 points among young women, the ILO report said.
Similar trends have emerged in the United States, Australia, South Korea, China, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Young workers are paying a heavy price now because many of them are employed in sectors that are hit especially hard by the spread of the Covid-19 disease and the ensuing lockdown measures, such as wholesale companies, retailers and service providers.

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