SDG 8: Pandemic Financial Affects on Women & Youth

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Even before the pandemic hit, global economic growth had slowed. The COVID-19 crisis disrupted economic activities around the world and caused the worst recession since the Great Depression. In 2020, 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019), equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs – about four times the number lost during the global financial crisis in 2009. The pandemic has put workers in informal employment at risk, as they lack protection against illness or lockdowns.

Young workers and women have been particularly affected by the crisis. With the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and continued fiscal and monetary support, the United States of America and China are expected to experience strong growth in 2021. However, for many other countries, economic growth will remain below pre-pandemic trends for a prolonged period.

The global economy grew by an average of about 2 per cent from 2014 to 2018. In 2019, real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increased by only 1.3 per cent globally and is estimated to have decreased by 4.6 per cent in 2020. With the roll-out of vaccines and government aid, a global economic recovery is under way, led by China and the United States.

Global GDP per capita is projected to increase by 4.3 per cent in 2021 and 3.1 per cent in 2022. However, for many countries, economic growth is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 or 2023.

For LDCs, real GDP increased by 4.8 per cent in 2019 and is expected to have decreased by 0.3 per cent in 2020 due to pandemic disruption. In 2021 and 2022, real GDP growth in LDCs is projected to pick up again – reaching 4.0 and 5.0 per cent, respectively. However, it is expected to remain well below the 7 per cent target envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

poster sdg 8 decent work and economic growth for all

COVID-19 has led to Massive Job Losses, particularly among Youth and Women

By 2020, the global unemployment rate reached 6.5 per cent, up 1.1 percentage points from the previous year. The number of people unemployed worldwide increased by 33 million, reaching 220 million. Another 81 million people left the labor market altogether. Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and Northern America recorded increases in the unemployment rate of at least 2 percentage points.

Youth and Women were especially hard hit, with employment losses of 8.7 per cent and 5.0 per cent, respectively, in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults and 3.9 per cent for men. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate of youth was already three times that of adults.

During the crisis, women were more likely than men to drop out of the labor force in order to care for children. This further increased longstanding gender gaps in labor force participation rates.

The Pandemic has led to an Increase in Youth who are not Employed, in School or in Training

In 2019, 22.3 per cent of the world’s youth were not engaged in either education, employment or training (NEET), a share that has shown no reduction in over a decade. Moreover, quarterly figures indicate that the NEET rate worsened from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020 in 42 out of 49 countries with available data.

This is not surprising, as young workers were more severely affected than older workers by employment losses in 2020. Both technical and vocational education and on-the-job training suffered massive disruption, forcing many to quit their studies.

Worldwide, young women are twice as likely as young men to be jobless and not engaged in education or training. In 2019, the global NEET rate was 31.1 per cent for young women, compared with 14.0 per cent for young men. Since more women than men have been pushed out of the labour force during the pandemic, the crisis is likely to worsen the NEET gender gap.

SDG Report 2021 – Goal 8

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