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One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted During the COVID-19 Pandemic


The Briefing

  • The global pandemic had a significant impact on average working hours across the globe
  • In 2020, 8.8% of global working hours were lost compared to Q4’2019
  • The amount of working hours lost in 2020 is equal to 255 million full-time jobs

How the Pandemic Impacted Employment Around the World

One year in, the global pandemic has impacted employment and changed the nature of work in a multitude of ways.

As job loss rose across the globe, many countries introduced job retention schemes to steady unemployment rates. At the same time, working hours for many who held on to their jobs were reduced.

To put it in perspective, COVID-19’s negative impact on working hours globally has been around 4x more than that caused by the Global Financial Crisis in 2009.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

As of January 2021, an estimated 93% of the world’s workforce lives in a country with some type of workplace closure restrictions still in place.

While profits were slashed across many industries, a majority of companies actually avoided firing people. However, 64% of firms either reduced wages, hours, or furloughed workers temporarily.

Compared to Q4’2019, total global working hours were reduced 8.8% in 2020. This is equivalent to approximately 255 million jobs.

Here’s a look at the working hour losses in a number of different countries.

Country 2020 Work Hour Losses Compared to Q4’2019
Peru 27.5%
Honduras 24.3%
Panama 23.5%
Argentina 21.0%
Colombia 20.9%
Bolivia 20.5%
El Salvador 19.4%
Ecuador 17.6%
Costa Rica 17.5%
Nepal 17.4%
Armenia 16.8%
Chile 16.7%
Guatemala 16.4%
Kuwait 16.4%
Dominican Republic 15.5%
Brazil 14.9%
Bahamas 14.8%
Eritrea 14.7%
Turkey 14.7%
Cyprus 14.6%
Azerbaijan 14.1%
Morocco 14.1%
North Macedonia 13.8%
India 13.7%
Venezuela 13.7%
Philippines 13.6%
South Africa 13.6%
Italy 13.5%
Myanmar 13.4%
Portugal 13.4%
Cape Verde 13.3%
Spain 13.2%
Georgia 13.1%
Oman 13.1%
United States Virgin Islands 13.0%
Moldova 12.9%
Slovakia 12.8%
United Kingdom 12.8%
Greece 12.6%
Cuba 12.5%
Guyana 12.5%
Ireland 12.5%
Mexico 12.5%
Bangladesh 12.2%
Uganda 12.2%
Bhutan 11.9%
Suriname 11.8%
Kyrgyzstan 11.7%
Algeria 11.6%
Kazakhstan 11.5%
Maldives 11.4%
Paraguay 11.4%
Jamaica 11.3%
Trinidad and Tobago 11.3%
Uruguay 11.2%
Belize 11.1%
Malaysia 11.1%
Iraq 10.8%
Malta 10.6%
Austria 10.5%
Barbados 10.4%
Jordan 10.4%
Lebanon 10.3%
Eswatini 9.9%
Sri Lanka 9.9%
Saint Lucia 9.8%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 9.7%
Guam 9.6%
Egypt 9.5%
Ethiopia 9.5%
Kenya 9.5%
Qatar 9.5%
Rwanda 9.4%
Canada 9.3%
Congo 9.3%
Libya 9.3%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9.3%
United Arab Emirates 9.3%
Israel 9.2%
Pakistan 9.2%
United States 9.2%
Sudan 9.1%
Zimbabwe 9.1%
Bahrain 9.0%
Liberia 9.0%
Guinea-Bissau 8.9%
Nigeria 8.9%
Sao Tome and Principe 8.9%
Romania 8.8%
Ukraine 8.8%
South Sudan 8.7%
Angola 8.6%
Hong Kong 8.6%
Puerto Rico 8.6%
Equatorial Guinea 8.5%
Russia 8.5%
Uzbekistan 8.5%
Chad 8.4%
France 8.4%
Gabon 8.3%
Saudi Arabia 8.3%
Indonesia 8.2%
Western Sahara 8.2%
Slovenia 8.0%
Montenegro 7.8%
Singapore 7.8%
Syria 7.8%
Gambia 7.7%
Guinea 7.6%
Haiti 7.6%
Serbia 7.5%
Lesotho 7.4%
Tonga 7.4%
Belgium 7.3%
Comoros 7.1%
Madagascar 6.9%
Djibouti 6.8%
Mauritius 6.7%
Democratic Republic of the Congo 6.6%
Afghanistan 6.5%
Botswana 6.4%
Fiji 6.3%
Germany 6.3%
Iceland 6.3%
Senegal 6.3%
Lithuania 6.1%
Bulgaria 6.0%
Tunisia 6.0%
Channel Islands 5.9%
Iran 5.9%
Namibia 5.9%
French Polynesia 5.7%
Croatia 5.5%
Japan 5.4%
Mauritania 5.3%
Vanuatu 5.3%
Hungary 5.2%
Mozambique 5.2%
Sweden 5.2%
Vietnam 5.2%
Malawi 5.1%
Central African Republic 5.0%
Togo 4.9%
Cambodia 4.8%
Samoa 4.8%
Australia 4.7%
Ghana 4.7%
Estonia 4.5%
Thailand 4.5%
Brunei Darussalam 4.4%
North Korea 4.4%
Czech Republic 4.3%
Laos 4.3%
Netherlands 4.3%
Cameroon 4.2%
Côte d’Ivoire 4.2%
China 4.1%
Albania 3.9%
Taiwan 3.9%
Sierra Leone 3.8%
Switzerland 3.8%
Turkmenistan 3.8%
South Korea 3.7%
Luxembourg 3.7%
Nicaragua 3.7%
New Caledonia 3.5%
Poland 3.5%
Denmark 3.3%
Latvia 3.3%
Mali 3.3%
Benin 3.2%
Tajikistan 3.2%
Timor-Leste 2.7%
Burkina Faso 2.6%
Zambia 2.6%
Mongolia 2.5%
Norway 2.5%
Somalia 2.5%
Macau 1.9%
Papua New Guinea 1.8%
Solomon Islands 1.8%
Tanzania 1.8%
Belarus 1.3%
Finland 1.3%
Yemen 1.3%
Niger 1.1%
New Zealand 0.8%
Burundi -0.1%

The loss of working hours has impacted Southern Europe, South Asia, the Americas, and the Caribbean most significantly. Not surprisingly, these regions are all heavily reliant on tourism and hospitality to fuel their economies.

Job Losses and the Future of Work

Working hour losses, however, do not just come from reductions in hours. The ILO approximates that the blame for working hour losses can be shared equally, with around half due to job losses and half due to a reduction in working hours.

Worldwide employment losses in 2020 were equal to 114 million jobs.

However, a large number of people have notably been deemed ‘inactive,’ rather than unemployed, reducing the global labor force participation rate overall.

ℹ️ Economic inactivity describes a situation wherein a person is either unable to work or is not actively seeking employment.

Although a rebound in working hours and jobs is expected in 2021, the pandemic’s effects on how we work, and the kinds jobs that are available will have a deeper long-term effect on the global labor force participation.

» Want to learn more? Check out our COVID-19 information hub to help put the past year into perspective

Where does this data come from?

Source: ILO
Details: The source defines workers as individuals aged 15-64. Full time jobs are defined using a 40 hour or 48 hour work week depending on the country. Additionally, the ILO used a multitude of national data sources on unemployment, furlough schemes, etc. to calculate working hour losses. Their methodology can be explored further here.

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