Pandemic destroyed 225 million jobs worldwide as billionaires got richer: reports

London: At least 225 million full-time jobs disappeared worldwide last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report published by the International Labor Organisation, losses four times worse than those of the global financial crisis in 2009, worse even than the Great Depression. But the ultrawealthy have seen their wealth soar.

According to another report, by anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam, the combined wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has risen by more than $US500 billion ($638 billion) since the crisis began – enough to vaccinate the entire planet and then some, according to the organisation.

Hospitality workers wait in line in a basement garage to apply for unemployment benefits in Los Angeles.Credit:AP

Both sets of findings, released on Monday, identify inequality as one of the pandemic’s principal outcomes. “Job destruction has disproportionately affected low-paid and low‑skilled jobs,” which “points to the risk of an uneven recovery, leading to still greater inequality in the coming years,” the ILO found.

That unevenness is already apparent: Global poverty could take 14-times longer to return to pre-pandemic levels than the recovery of the world’s wealthiest, according to Oxfam.

According to the report by the ILO, a UN agency, 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost last year. It found “unprecedented disruption” among global labor markets, and that women and young people have been the hardest hit.

Employment loss among 15-24 years old stood at 8.7 per cent. The data “highlights the all too real risk of a lost generation,” according to the report.

Guy Ryder, the director general of the ILO, said during a news briefing that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic had not only been greater than that of the financial crisis but also the Great Depression of the 1930s. Job losses, he said, were likely to continue through 2021 – although he noted that battered economies could begin rebuild once vaccination efforts begin to take effect.

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. His company has profited wildly during the pandemic.Credit:AP

“I am pleased to say that there is some relatively good news in all of this, that we do see tentative signs of recovery – these signs are fragile, they are uncertain and the prospects are notably uneven,” he said.

The Oxfam findings also suggest a slow path to economic recovery: It could take at least a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the impact of the health crisis while the 1000 richest people have already made back their losses, and the wealthiest 10 have earned more than $US500 billion amid the pandemic.

British lawmaker David Lammy of the Labour Party called the Oxfam findings “truly staggering.”

“The wealth of ten of the world’s richest men has increased by more than £400bn – during the pandemic – more than enough to vaccinate every person in the world,” he tweeted

Authors of the report said that the pandemic could trigger a rise simultaneous rise inequality nearly everywhere, for the first time since records began.

“The virus has exposed, fed off and increased existing inequalities of wealth, gender and race,” the report said.

Washington Post

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