Archive photo for representation. | photo credit: Reuters
Asia-Pacific labor markets have recorded a partial rebound from the impact of COVID-19, but full recovery in the region remains elusive with conditions expected to remain challenging through 2023, according to a report titled, Asia-Pacific Employment and Social Outlook 2022: Rethinking Sector Strategies for a Human-Centered Future of Work, released Monday by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The report will create a framework for discussions at the ILO’s Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) due to start on December 5 in Singapore.
The report talked about employment figures in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022, which were 2% higher than the pre-crisis level of 2019, after the loss of more than 57 million jobs in 2020. However, he said the labor market recovery in the region lagged behind global levels. He revealed that employment growth occurred in 2021 and 2022, recovering from the 3.1% decline in employment in 2020.
“At first glance, employment trends appear positive. Digging deeper, there are still many signs that the region’s labor market has not yet returned to its pre-crisis trajectory. First, while employment growth is positive again, the employment-to-population ratio in 2022 remains slightly below the pre-crisis trend, at 56.2% in 2022 compared to 56.9% in 2019. Second , compared to where the number of jobs would be in Asia and the Pacific, if the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis had never happened, there is a continuing jobs gap of 22 million ( 1.1%) in 2022. The jobs deficit is expected to rise again to 26 million (1.4%) in 2023 given the headwinds to growth forecast in the current global and regional geopolitical context,” reads -on in the report.
The report found that while computer and information services is the fastest growing sector in the region in terms of employment growth, only 9.4 million people were working in the sector in 2021, which corresponds to only 0.5% of total employment. “In contrast, the three most important sectors in terms of employment in the Asia-Pacific region: agriculture, forestry and fishing; manufacturing; and wholesale and retail trade, together accounted for 1.1 billion workers in 2021, or 60% of the region’s 1.9 billion workers,” the report observes.
Men are preferred over women in key market sectors
Concerned about the changing composition of sectoral employment which favors men over women in terms of decent work opportunities, he said that like the IT sector, most other high growth sectors employment have also benefited men over women. “Only one of the top ten employment growth sectors in the Asia-Pacific region has favored female employment, accommodation and food services, where 55% of additional jobs between 1991 and 2021 went to women. “, notes the report.
He added that total working hours in the region had yet to return to pre-crisis levels. “Loss of working hours in the first three quarters of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 amounted to approximately 1.5% (1.9% for men and 0.5% for women)” , says the report. At the same time, nearly 105 million, the number of regional unemployed, was still 12% higher in 2022 than in 2019 and the regional unemployment rate was still 0.5% higher than the 2019 rate, at 5.2 %.
Commenting on the data source adjustment for India, the ILO said it had an impact on employment estimates for South Asia and Asia-Pacific as a whole. “It is, to a large extent, responsible for the jump in 2018-2019 in regional employment and the employment-to-population ratio. This data may sound like “good news”, showing a positive trend in job creation that year, but the reality is that the trend reflects a sharp increase in female self-employment in rural India. , as shown by the periodic labor force survey. Survey of 2019-2020,” he said, adding that such “good news” should be carefully qualified with an understanding of the lower levels of job quality that job gains reflect.